Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Birthweight

July 1, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

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I was born at home. Natural birth method. No epidural, no anything. The local midwife helped my mother bring me out to this world. I am my mother eldest. I still can’t imagine how she did it. Well I had a c-section when I delivered my son. So the real pains of childbirth will always remain a “concept” to me.

So what about childbirth? This is an arthritis blog, right?

There is a new report of a study from UK linking rheumatoid arthritis to birth weight of women. it said women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life if they were heavy at birth.

The findings, based on patient records of more than 87,000 women aged between 30 and 55 when the US Nurses’ Health Study began in 1976, revealed that those weighing more than 10lb (4.54kg) at birth were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as women of average birthweight. During the period of the research, 619 women were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York describe how they found a striking link between women who developed the joint condition and their birthweight.

I have always mentioned in this blog how losing some weight can alleviate your arthritis, especially off the knees — if that is the kind you have.

But this is the first I encountered linking your weight at birth and the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life.

Well I don’t know how much I weight at birth, because I was born at home. But you see, a 10 lb baby at birth is HUGE. My son was just (if I remember it right) 7.2 lbs at birth and everyone was surprised that he is big already. How can something so big come out of a barely 5-ft tall woman like me. No wonder he cannot be delivered the natural way.

But a more than 10 lb baby?! It’s kinda scary you know. No wonder the baby can be at a higher risk of developing any serious condition later in life. Now I understand why pregnant women are told to watch what they eat and how much they eat. First and foremost, it becomes difficult to deliver a bigger than normal baby. Second, the health risks to both mother and the baby.

The results held true even after taking account of factors likely to influence the baby’s birthweight.

These included socioeconomic status, parental smoking, maternal diabetes, age at first period, use of oral contraceptives or HRT, breastfeeding and weight.

There is no obvious biological explanation for the findings, say the authors. But adults with rheumatoid arthritis have abnormal hormone regulation, and it is thought that this process may be triggered while in the womb.

Although completely speculative, they go on to suggest that if the risk of rheumatoid arthritis could be lessened during pregnancy, altering the mother’s diet could open up an exciting avenue for prevention.

The above research findings are published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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