“Do I stop my RA medications if I am pregnant?”
“Can I breastfeed and also take my RA medications to avoid a flare up?”
“What else can I take besides methotrexate during my pregnancy… hydroxychloroquine or sulfasalazine?”
To some women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), these questions are all too familiar but maybe not answered.
Though there is limited data to address this topic, it is a necessary one to delve into and Dr. Megan Clowse, a specialist in rheumatology and pregnancy with Duke University answered a plethora of pregnancy-related questions for women with RA during the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting in early November.
In this video, available via ACR’s Rheumatology News Digital Network, Dr. Clowse provided detailed guidance for fellow RA specialists and healthcare professionals regarding treatment management practices she follows for patients with RA who are considering pregnancy, are pregnant or are looking to breastfeed.
The ACR recently came out with the 2015 clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of RA, and though insightful, no recommendations on how to treat women who are pregnant or of childbearing age were provided.
In developing the new guidelines, CreakyJoints president and co-founder Seth Ginsberg was one of only two arthritis patients invited by the ACR to represent the arthritis patient community perspective. In discussions, Ginsberg noted, “I spoke up to say, ‘Hey everybody, we’re talking about a disease that affects women of childbearing age. Can someone say the word pregnancy, once?’ And there were a lot of nods and a lot of agreement but unfortunately the ship had sailed.”
Patients interested in this area may want to review an informational web program called “Pregnancy and Rheumatoid Arthritis-Can They Go Together? (Hint: Yes)” hosted by WebMD and developed jointly by CreakyJoints and University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine in 2014. In this program, participants will learn key takeaways about how to help plan for a safe pregnancy; drug safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding and the importance of patient registries, especially for women who want to get pregnant.