Background Disease activity and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) appear to be worse in women than in men . The role of parity on disease activity is controversial, since pregnancy is characterized by a lower disease activity, but the postpartum period by an increase in activity . Radiographic joint damage progression represents the cumulative effect of disease activity and allows us to study the long term effect of parity.
Objectives To study the impact of parity on radiographic progression in women with RA.
Methods This is an observational cohort study of RA patients included in the Swiss Clinical Quality Management in Rheumatoid Arthritis (SCQM-RA). Patients enrolled are followed-up yearly and have x-rays assessments at regular intervals. Information about female hormonal factors, such as pregnancies, breastfeeding, menstrual cycles and hormonal treatment were retrospectively retrieved using a questionnaire. For this analysis we included women with at least two x-rays and full information on reproductive factors. The primary outcome was the rate of radiographic progression (Ratingen erosion score) and the secondary outcome was functional disability progression (Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI)). We compared the rate of progression between parous and nulliparous women using a multilevel regression model for longitudinal data, adjusting for potential confounders, such as age, disease duration, DAS 28 and treatment. In a subanalysis we explored if the x-ray progression was more severe during the active parous period, operationally defined as the 10 years following the first pregnancy or miscarriage.
Results A total of 726 women were analysed, of which 438 (60%) were parous, with a median number of pregnancies of 2 (IQR: 2–3), a mean of 4.8 x-rays per patient and 10.9 years of follow-up. Baseline patients and disease characteristics were balanced, but parous women were older than nulliparous (median of 49 vs 45 years, p=0.001) (Table 1). During follow-up, erosion progression did not differ significantly between parous and nulliparous women (p=0.94). In a subanalysis, the radiographic progression during the active parous period was not different [0.6% (95% CI: 0.5 to 0.8) vs 0.5% (95% CI: 0.4 to 0.7) by year, respectively, p=0.28]. The decrease of the HAQ-DI score overtime was not different between parous and nulliparous women (p=0.21), and it was not different during the active parous period [-0.02 (95% CI: -0.03 to - 0.01) vs -0.02 (95% CI:- 0.03 to - 0.01) by year, respectively, p=0.67]. We did not find differences in radiographic progression or HAQ-DI score between women with a single pregnancy and multiparous women.
Conclusions In women with RA, the progression of structural damage and of functional disability did not differ between parous and nulliparous women. Among parous women, the active parous period was not associated with more radiographic damage progression. Although postpartum period is associated with increase in disease activity, our results suggest that parity does not have a negative long term impact on structural damage.
Camacho EM, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010; 69:1834–37.
Pikwer M, et al. Arthritis Res Ther. 2015 Dec 12;17:358.
Disclosure of Interest None declared