Pregnancy And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis, do these go together? What are the risks and
why do people take them? Research on pregnancy and arthritis presented at the American
College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP)
scientific meeting in San Diego in November 2005 shows that pregnant women with
arthritis have higher risks and longer hospital stays than same aged women of the
Does this mean that women with arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis must
say no to pregnancy? Women are continuing to choose to become pregnant or finding
that they have become pregnant and successfully delivering a healthy baby. Of course
there are risks. The risks must be considered and decisions made regarding the health
of the mother and the child.
For example, some arthritis medications are believed to be perfectly safe for an
unborn child. Others are completely toxic and must be avoided. So consideration
must be given to whether the mother is able to make the switch to the safer medications
for the few months prior to conception plus the nine month until delivery.
The good news for those with rheumatoid arthritis is that as many as 75 percent
of women with RA experience a remission of their arthritis during pregnancy. This
is thought to be caused by the presence of genetic matter in the baby that came
from the father. It has been observed that the greater the genetic difference between
the baby and the mother the better it is for the mother. Why this does not happen
with other forms or arthritis or rheumatic diseases is not yet known.
While women with rheumatoid arthritis may experience a remission during pregnancy,
this is almost always followed by a flare after delivery. Most consider this acceptable
even if it means they need stronger medications because of the joy of having the
Not all women experience a lessening of symptoms during a pregnancy and these must
deal with the disease as each trimester progresses. All pregnancies have some risk
and need monitoring, but more monitoring is needed for women with arthritis. However,
even those women who struggled with their arthritis during pregnancy still say it
is worth it in the end.
The key to dealing with all the issues regarding pregnancy in those with rheumatoid
arthritis is to start early discussions with the doctors-both the rheumatologist
and the gynecologist. With everyone in the loop and awareness and planning a safe
pregnancy is possible.