Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wisdom Wednesday: If Mom Has Rheumatoid Arthritis, Baby May Develop It Too

Children born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk for the disease and other chronic health problems, a new study suggests.

The finding comes from an analysis of long-term follow-up data on all children born in Denmark in a 25-year period. That included more than 2,100 children born to women diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before pregnancy and 1.3 million children born to women who did not have the disease.

The children born to women with the disease were almost three [times] more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis themselves, the study found. They also had a 2.2 times greater risk for thyroid disease and a 1.6 higher risk for epilepsy.

The study was published online Dec. 11 in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

“Our results call for special attention on child development of rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease and epilepsy if exposed to rheumatoid arthritis in utero,” researcher Line Joelving said in a journal news release. She’s with the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology at Odense University Hospital in Denmark.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints.

My Take:
Rheumatoid arthritis(RA) occurs much more frequently in women, a 9:1 ratio to men. It also is typically diagnosed in the mid-to-late 30’s, although symptoms are often experienced much sooner. I believe the incidence of disease in these children will be much higher if the study continues another 15 years.

As noted, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The “thyroid disease”, also noted, is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, another autoimmune disease. I suspect the antibodies are passed in utero and predispose the offspring to future autoimmune issues. I can’t speculate on the relationship to epilepsy.

I was curious about the criteria used to diagnose RA as there are a range of symptoms and tests used with no real consensus about borderline cases. I often have new patients who have previously been diagnosed with RA in error. Unfortunately, the abstract did not provide those details and the full article was not available.

Implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining is also dependent on an immune response. Several studies have linked autoimmune disease to endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian aging (POA) and idiopathic infertility.

The Bottom Line:
If you have RA or any autoimmune disease and plan on conceiving, look at all the alternative health options to support your condition. RA responds favorably to both diet and supplementation. Eliminating potential trigger foods like wheat, dairy and/or soy can be very effective. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), ginger, Boswellia and Echinacea all have great benefit.

Source: December 11, 2017 National Institutes of Health

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