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Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis may mean fewer children for female patients

We've written before about autoimmune disease and pregnancy, and the fact that having children seems to be safe - and even beneficial - for women with one such disorder. Now comes research showing that having lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may affect how many children a woman has: In a survey of 578 patients, more than half said they wound up with fewer children than what they had hoped for.

As The Checkup reports:

According to [the study] it appears that some women diagnosed with RA or lupus during their childbearing years consciously choose not to have children after they’ve been diagnosed. Those choices may be based on concerns that they may pass their disease on to a child, that the medication they take to manage their condition may harm a child, or that their condition might render them unable to properly care for a child.

Beyond those understandable concerns, the study found that women with RA who had had fewer children than they had once planned had experienced higher rates of infertility and those with lupus who’d had fewer children than planned had higher rates of miscarriage than women who had the number of children they had originally planned.

In a WebMD article, first author Megan Clowse, MD, MPH, from Duke University Medical Center, noted that potential fertility problems among RA patients haven't been studied - and need to be. And:

She adds that women with rheumatoid arthritis who wish to have children need to know that their ability to conceive may be compromised.

“This needs to be part of the conversation,” she says. “Women with rheumatoid arthritis who want to have children may be better off trying to conceive sooner rather than later if their family circumstances support this.”

The study is being published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Previously: Multiple sclerosis doesn’t appear to pose pregnancy-related risks, Childbirth may be beneficial for MS patients and Encouraging news for pregnant women with MS or epilepsy

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