Pregnancy Concerns Weigh Heavy on Female RA Patients

Aug 20, 2019

Women with rheumatoid arthritis are concerned with pregnancy and parenting issues and require more information from their doctors, say researchers writing in ACR Open Rheumatology this month.

Women with rheumatoid arthritis are concerned with pregnancy and parenting issues and require more information from their doctors, say researchers writing in ACR Open Rheumatology this month.

Due to advances in improvements in treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, today, more women with rheumatoid arthritis are considering pregnancy. In the past, concerns about safety associated with medications, the pregnancy itself, and the postnatal period, dissuaded many women from pursuing a pregnancy. But that’s changed. Previously published studies have shown that women are increasingly turning to the internet for more information about pregnancy after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. After all, rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men and it usually strikes during childbearing years.

In this study, researchers, analyzed the site Reddit to determine what questions and concerns women with rheumatoid arthritis had about pregnancy and parenting. They found an information gap.

“Rheumatoid arthritis occurs at a prevalence ratio of nearly three women to one man. Despite peak onset of rheumatoid arthritis occurring during the fourth and fifth decades of life, women between the ages of 16 and 40 are also affected by rheumatoid arthritis,” wrote authors who were led by Mary A. De Vera, Ph.D., of the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance in Ontario.

This study is based on a search of three Reddit sites for the terms “r/Thritis,” “r/Rheumatoid,” and “r/BabyBumps” that were conducted over 10 years. The search included threads that specifically mentioned having rheumatoid arthritis, fertility/family planning, pregnancy/reproduction, and/or parenting/having children. Of 87 threads, 59 were included in the final analysis with the following five themes as among the most prominent: Finding a community, making decisions about pregnancy and having children, worrying about the impacts of arthritis on pregnancy and parenting, information needs for managing arthritis throughout the perinatal period, and, pregnancy information and resources for women with arthritis.

“Findings of information needs, particularly regarding the management of rheumatoid arthritis in pregnancy and safety of medications, may suggest that information from these guidelines needs to reach patients and not just healthcare providers,” the authors wrote.

REFERENCE

Caitlin Chew, Nevena Rebić, Corisande Baldwin, et al.  “r/Thritis”, Pregnancy, and Parenting: A Qualitative Descriptive Study of Reddit Forums to Explore Information Needs and Concerns of Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis."ACR Open Rheumatology. August 15, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/acr2.11069

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