Fewer Children for Women with RA

Women with autoimmune disorders such as RA generally have fewer children than they would like to have, according to a survey that appeared recently in Arthritis Care and Research.

Women with autoimmune disorders such as RA generally have fewer children than they would like to have, according to a survey that appeared recently in Arthritis Care and Research.

In the study, researchers analyzed questionnaire responses from 114 women with lupus and 578 with RA who were enrolled in the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases. Respondents were separated into 3 groups: women who had fewer children than planned, those with the number of children they desired, and those who no longer wished to have more children.

“On the surface, the two patient populations share primary vulnerabilities, as both diseases are characterized by systemic inflammation, affect women during their reproductive years, and require similar medications,” the researchers wrote.

Among women with RA, those who had fewer children than they had planned reported rates of infertility 1.5 times higher than the other 2 groups. Researchers also noted that factors other than infertility, such as fear they could not care for children (53%) or the concern that they would pass their disease to their offspring (17%), affected their number of pregnancies.