Certain factors surrounding a person?s birth may affect the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A Swedish study found that babies who had a birth weight of >8.82 lb were >3 times as likely to have RA later in life, but having a low birth weight did not appear to affect the risk of RA. Also, low frequency of breast-feeding while in the hospital slightly increased the chances of RA as an adult, along with having a father employed in manual labor, according to results of a study published in the British Medical Journal (May 17, 2003).
The researchers looked at a group of 77 adults with RA who were born between 1940 and 1960 in Malm?, Sweden, and compared their birth records with a group of 308 similarly matched healthy adults born during the same time in the same city. They examined information about birth weight, mother?s age, length of hospital stay following the birth, start of breast-feeding, and father?s occupation.