Rheumatoid Arthritis and Children’s Health

It’s well known that many diseases run in families. If a parent has it, it’s more likely that their children will too. So it’s understandable that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) would worry that their children might face greater health risks than other children.

A new study from Denmark, however, brings some reassurance to these concerned parents. The researchers examined data collected from the Danish Medical Birth Registry on nearly two million children. Of these children, about 13,500 had a mother who had RA and a little over 6,000 had a father with RA. The researchers looked to see how many of the two million children had suffered respiratory or infectious diseases and how many of these children had a parent with RA. The researchers also examined mortality rates among the children.

The researchers found no higher rates of respiratory disease or infectious disease among children who had a parent with RA. And of the children who did contract a respiratory or infectious disease, those with RA parents did not have a higher mortality rate. Finally, mortality rates were similar for children with RA parents and for children whose parents were unaffected by RA.

The authors of the study aimed their conclusions at doctors who needed information on what to tell their RA patients who have children. They concluded, “Physicians can reassure patients who have rheumatoid arthritis that their children should not be at increased risk for death as a result of their disease.”

Want to learn more about rheumatoid arthritis? Read “Steps to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare-Ups” and “Managing Sleep Problems in RA.”

Joseph Gustaitis is a freelance writer and editor based in the Chicago area.

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