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Pregnancy Offers Relief from Some Diseases

separator During pregnancy, some women experience relief from symptoms of autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The symptoms usually return after childbirth, sometimes with increased strength. A new study may explain why.

Researchers found that in pregnant women, there were lower levels of hormones that trigger the protective action of the immune system. They theorize the reason for this decrease is that if the hormone level were at its pre-pregnancy state, the woman's immune system might recognize the fetus as a foreign body and reject it.

The immune systems of people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis tend to work on "overdrive," and it appears that pregnancy may slow this over-activity down.

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, October 2001.
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