Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication May Be Safe for Expectant Mothers

AUGUST 13, 2018
Ryan Marotta
Recent study results suggest that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, an immunosuppressant drug class commonly used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), can be safely taken by pregnant women without causing harm to their babies.

The study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, evaluated data on nearly 3000 children born to women with RA. Of those children, 380 were exposed to TNF inhibitors in utero. Based on their analysis, the researchers determined that although TNF inhibitors were capable of crossing the placenta, its use during pregnancy was not associated with a statistically significant increased risk of compromised immunity among offspring. Specifically, only 3.2% of children exposed to TNF inhibitors presented with serious infections compared with 2% of children born to mothers with RA who did not take TNF inhibitors.

“Knowing there is not necessarily an association between infections and these RA drugs will be very reassuring to expectant mothers,” said lead author Évelyne Vinet, MD, PhD, in a statement. “It is important to highlight these findings so would-be mothers understand they can enjoy a normal pregnancy without being burdened by unnecessary stress.”

The study authors emphasized that further research is needed to affirm the safety of TNF inhibitors in pregnant women, and they advised health care providers to follow current recommendations when treating women with RA.

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