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Pregnancy might help soothe the overactive immune system
It’s clear that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is linked to the abnormality of immune system. Normally, the immune system has main function to help protect the body from any harmful substances.
But in people with autoimmune disorder such as RA, the immune system can act in the wrong way. It marks some healthy cells /tissues as the harmful objects. As a result, it attacks the wrong target.
Synovium is usually the wrong target of the abnormally immune system in people with RA. It is a lining of membrane surrounding the joint. And synovium damage could eventually destroy other parts of the joint, such as cartilage and bone.
Since the inflammation of RA is associated with the abnormality or overactive immune system, some medicines for this joint disease are designed to help suppress the immune system. And in pregnant women, pregnancy may have contribution to dampen the body immune system in order to make the body seeing the baby as not-harmful object.
In other words, pregnancy may make the body immune system not work as actively as it did. As a result, RA is less likely to active – leaving less pain and inflammation – or even may go into remission.
Inflammation is the main concern in RA. Even many treatments of this joint disorder are focused to help control and ease the inflammation.
If inflammation of RA is out of control, this could carry some serious complications, such as heart diseases, eye problems, osteoporosis, or even a rare condition called Felty syndrome.
Some experts speculate that pregnancy may trigger the elevated levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which then eventually reduce the inflammation. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may have a role, too.
According to one study, the genetic of father may have an effect. Baby with more genetically dissimilarity to the mother may make RA tend to go away during pregnancy.
But overall, again there is still no clearly explanation and this issue is still debatable. Some studies are continuously observing for the answer.
In most cases, RA tends to improve or even go into remission during pregnancy, as noted before. But it usually comes back several weeks after delivery, even in some cases the symptoms may increase in severity. The good news, many women continue to do well after pregnancy.
One of major concerns is when you choose to exclusively breastfeed your baby. RA can recur and flare up during breastfeeding. And medicines you take for your RA could travel through milk of breastfeeding to your baby.
Typically, RA medicines you need to avoid during pregnancy are commonly also not suggested during breastfeeding. But this doesn’t mean that there is no option to cope with RA if you are breastfeeding – for more advice, talk with your doctor!