-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Women with rheumatoid
arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus often have fewer children
than they'd hoped for, according to a new study.
These autoimmune diseases, which typically develop during
women's reproductive years, cause fertility problems and
miscarriage, researchers said.
Lupus causes the body's immune system to attack healthy tissues
and organs. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to painful joint
For the study, researchers asked 578 women with rheumatoid
arthritis and 114 women with lupus about their reproductive health,
and divided them into three groups according to how their condition
affected their desire and ability to have children.
Group A included women who had fewer children than planned.
Group B was comprised of women who had number of children they had
planned for, and women in Group C were no longer interested in
having children due to their concerns about how their illness would
affect their children.
More than 60 percent of the women surveyed fell into Group C and
no longer wanted to have children, according to the study appearing
Feb. 16 in
Arthritis Care & Research.
"Our study highlights important reproductive health concerns for women with [rheumatoid arthritis and lupus]," study author Dr. Megan Clowse said in a journal news release.
Of the remaining women, 55 percent with rheumatoid arthritis and
64 percent of those of those with lupus had fewer children than
Among these women, those with rheumatoid arthritis had an
infertility rate of 42 percent, or 1.5 times higher than those in
group B. Both groups had similar rates of miscarriage.
Women with lupus who had fewer children than planned had the
same number of pregnancies as those in Group B, but their
miscarriage rate was three times higher.
The authors concluded that informing women with lupus and
rheumatoid arthritis about their medical options during pregnancy
and how to control their disease will help them achieve their
family planning goals.
"Further study of the underlying causes of infertility and pregnancy loss in women with [rheumatoid arthritis and lupus] is needed to help fulfill their desire for children," Clowse said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides more
women and autoimmune diseases.
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