Studies have shown that women with active RA tend to experience a decrease in disease activity during pregnancy and a recurrence of activity after birth. Some studies have also indicated that the level if disease activity may be greater after pregnancy than before.
A new study out this month in the journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism, found that women who experience a significant decrease in disease activity while they were pregnant also had significant increases in the serum levels of fetal DNA during pregnancy and a sharp drop in the serum levels after pregnancy. The researchers concluded that there is an inverse association between the two, which may explain why the women improved while pregnant and then symptoms recurred after birth. They theorize that fetal DNA may have a regulating effect on the mother’s immune system.
The study collected blood samples from 25 pregnant women with RA. Of the 21 women who experienced improvement during pregnancy (Group A), 15 had adult-onset RA and 6 had juvenile idiopathic RA (JIA). The other women experienced no improvement during their pregnancies (Group B). The research found that serum fetal DNA levels were significantly higher in the third trimester for women in Group A than for group B. Ninety percent of the women in Group A experienced recurrence of symptoms 3 to 4 months after birth.
From Arthritis and Rheumatism , July 2006; 54:2069-2073.
Published On: July 07, 2006