Increased Risk of Chronic Disease in Children of Women With RA


A frequent concern of pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis: the impact of the disease on the future health of their children.

Children of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at heightened risk for certain chronic diseases, according to Danish researchers.

The study
Jølving and colleagues1 looked at the possible link between RA in mothers and the risk of 15 selected groups of chronic diseases in their children. Their findings were published recently in Arthritis Care & Research.

This nationwide study included data on all children born in Denmark from 1989 through 2013; the cohort comprised 2106 children of women with RA and 1,378,539 children of women without RA.

The results
The risk of several diseases in childhood and adolescence increased when the mother had a diagnosis of RA before pregnancy. Specifically, the hazard ratio of thyroid diseases was 2.19 (95% CI, 1.14-4.21); epilepsy, 1.61 (95% CI, 1.16-2.25); and RA, 2.89 (95% CI, 2.06-4.05).

Implications for physicians
“We have addressed a concern in pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis in terms of a potential increased risk of a negative impact of their chronic disease on the future health of their offspring,” said Jølving. “Our results call for special attention on child development of rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, and epilepsy if exposed to rheumatoid arthritis in utero.”


1. Jølving LR, Nielsen J, Kesmodel US, et al. Children born by women with rheumatoid arthritis have increased susceptibility for selected chronic diseases - a nationwide cohort study. Arthritis Care Res. 2017 Dec 11. doi: 10.1002/acr.23461. [Epub ahead of print]

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