HealthDay News — Some children born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have higher-than-average odds of developing epilepsy, according to a study published online November 16 in Neurology.
The findings are based on health records from 1,917,723 Danish children. The children were born between 1977 and 2008; 13,454 had a mother with RA and 6,248 had a father with the disease.
During a 16-year follow-up, the researchers found that 31,491 children from the whole group developed epilepsy. Children whose mothers had clinical RA during pregnancy were 90% more likely to be diagnosed with epilepsy in early childhood, versus children born to mothers without RA (hazard ratio, 1.90). The risk was lower – but still higher than normal – if the mother’s RA was diagnosed after pregnancy (hazard ratio, 1.26).
“Children exposed to maternal RA had an increased risk of early and late childhood epilepsy compared to children unexposed to maternal RA. In contrast, paternal RA was not associated with epilepsy in the offspring, and a lower hazard ratio was found among children exposed to maternal preclinical RA,” the authors write. “These findings indicate mechanisms involved in epileptogenesis that operate via changes in the intrauterine environment or via specific treatment for RA.”