Skip to main content

Children of Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis May Have Higher Risk of RA and Other Diseases

R&AConnection News: Despite a growing body of evidence suggesting that maternal health is more important than maternal medications to fetal and infant outcomes, little is known about the long-term outcomes of infants born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Using Danish population data, researchers have shown that in utero exposure to maternal RA is associated with an increased risk of thyroid disease, and an increased risk of future RA.

Using Danish health registries that included all children born alive in Denmark between 1989 and 2013, doctors identified 2106 children born by women with RA (exposed), and 1,378,539 children born by women without RA (unexposed).

The doctors reported that children exposed to maternal RA were 2-3 more likely to develop thyroid diseases, epilepsy, and/or RA.

Scroll to Continue


The risk of developing other conditions previously thought to be linked to maternal RA including anxiety, personality disorders, chronic lung disease and asthma were not significantly increased.

These findings have several limitations: 1) data only analyzed live birth data; 2) there is no report or analysis of maternal disease activity (or other factors) on fetal outcomes; and 3) data did not analyze the effects of treatment or socioeconomic status on outcomes.

Clinicians, patients and regulatory agencies are keenly focused on these outcomes and more detailed research is needed to further assess the impact of disease, drugs and health during pregnancy on long-term offspring development and outcomes.