Pregnancy and arthritis – rheumatology perspective – Prof. Douglas Veale

Pregnancy and arthritis – rheumatology perspective – Prof. Douglas Veale


I think one of the most frequent questions we’re asked is around the medications and pregnancy. My name is Prof. Douglas Veale. I’m a rheumatologist from St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin and we have established, with Prof. Fionnuala McAuliffe, a joint clinic between rheumatology and obstetrics. Young girls who have arthritis, who are planning a pregnancy, they want to know whether it’s safe to continue medication during pregnancy, or whether they have to stop their medication during pregnancy. And the good news is that by and large, a lot of the modern therapies are very safe in pregnancy. Our advice now is very much that mothers who are planning a pregnancy, should be as well as they possibly can be from their arthritis point of view. So we would suggest that their treatment is continued, at least until they conceive, and then, depending on how well their arthritis is controlled, they may be able to stop their treatment or they may need to continue it to maintain that wellness throughout their pregnancy. We are not just focusing on the pregnancy, and actually the service we are providing, and the advice we are providing is really about the whole journey of contraception, conception, pregnancy, and also living with a baby. I have to stress that even with quite severe arthritis, most mothers are well able to manage most of the functions that they need to look after a baby, whether it’s breast-feeding or changing nappies or the usual day-to-day activities involved in rearing a child. If a couple is planning a pregnancy, they need to actually discuss that with their rheumatologist first and then they can discuss it with a gynaecologist or an obstetrician. There are practical issues that we can address and we involve our colleagues from the occupational therapy department and the physiotherapy department to really give us some advice, and to give our patients some advice around those issues also.

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