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Aurora magazine

Maternal rheumatoid arthritis linked to chronic fetal diseases

People born of women with rheumatoid arthritis are at greater risk of developing certain chronic diseases. This is what emerges from a study led by Dr. Line Jølving, from Odense University Hospital. The discovery was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research and could help in the prevention of certain disorders.

The team conducted a nationwide study with a very long follow-up. Researchers analyzed data on all children born in Denmark over a 25-year period. Among these there are 2,016 children born to women with rheumatoid arthritis and 1,378,539 born to women without arthritis. The goal was to verify if the maternal illness involves risks for the fetus and what is their nature.

The researchers found that those born of a woman with arthritis are more likely to develop chronic diseases in childhood and adolescence. Specifically, the presence of maternal rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a 2.9 times higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in turn. Scientists also found a 1.6-fold higher risk of epilepsy and a 2.2-fold higher than thyroid disease.

The discovery is useful for developing new treatments and prevention pathways. In fact, maternal illness can indicate the need for greater attention to the health of the child.