Background: There is a known interaction between pregnancy and rheumatic disease. Women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) are concerned about the potential impact of a pregnancy. Therefore, it is important to get more knowledge on how pregnancy affects these womens health related quality of life (HRQL).
Purpose: To study changes in HRQL in Norwegian women with RA and JIA before, during and after pregnancy.
Methods: A total 35 patients with RA and 27 patients with JIA were assessed up to six times (before pregnancy, once in each trimester, and at six weeks and six months postpartum) using the short form 36 (SF-36). In addition, these women were compared to a group of nonpregnant reference women in the same age group, 66 women with RA and 33 women with JIA.
Results: In the study group RA women had better HRQL than the JIA patients at baseline in the aspects of mental health, vitality and role physical. Independent of disease group the womens, experience of vitality was lower in 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester compared to baseline. Six months postpartum, the RA women in the study group scored better in the aspects of social function, physical function, role physical and role emotional than the non-pregnant reference women with RA.
Conclusion: HRQL was lower during pregnancy for both RA and JIA women. However, despite a wide range, the women seemed to reach the same level as pre-pregnancy at the time of six months postpartum.