Natalizumab reduces multiple sclerosis relapses very effectively; however, severe disease activity may return once natalizumab treatment is withdrawn, as recommended during pregnancy. Sometimes restarting natalizumab treatment may be the best option for the mother, but the consequences for the infant are unknown. Except for a few single case reports, to our knowledge, comprehensive data about third-trimester natalizumab exposure are scant.
In a case series of 12 women with 13 pregnancies and highly active multiple sclerosis who were treated with natalizumab during their third trimester of pregnancy, we assessed the clinical and laboratory effects on the newborns. We observed mild to moderate hematologic alterations in 10 of 13 infants including thrombocytopenia and anemia. In a subsample of 5 mother-child pairs, we analyzed natalizumab levels in the umbilical cord blood. Natalizumab was detectable in all 5 newborns.
Conclusion and Relevance
Natalizumab can be a therapeutic option in patients with highly active multiple sclerosis during pregnancy. We recommend that a pediatrician be available at the time of delivery to evaluate for potential complications of anemia and thrombocytopenia in newborns exposed to natalizumab during the third trimester.