Parity influences the severity of ACPA-negative early rheumatoid arthritis: A cohort study based on the Swedish EIRA material

Mitra Pikwer*, Cecilia Orellana, Henrik Källberg, Andreas Pikwer, Carl Turesson, Lars Klareskog, Lars Alfredsson, Saedis Saevarsdottir, Camilla Bengtsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) it has been observed that during pregnancy a majority of patients experience amelioration, but after delivery a relapse of the disease is common. However, there are few studies, with diverging results, addressing the effect of parity on the severity of RA over time. Our aim was to explore the impact of parity, with stratification for anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) status as well as for onset during reproductive age or not. Methods: Female RA cases aged 18-70 years were recruited for the Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA). Information on disease severity (the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) and the disease activity score 28 (DAS28)) was retrieved from the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register at inclusion and 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after diagnosis. Mixed models were used to compare mean DAS28 and HAQ scores over time in parous and nulliparous women. Mean differences at individual follow-up visits were compared using analysis of covariance. The odds of having DAS28 or HAQ above the median in parous verus nulliparous women were estimated in logistic regression models. Results: A total of 1237 female cases (mean age 51 years, 65 % ACPA-positive) were included. ACPA-negative parous women, aged 18-44 years, had on average 1.17 units higher DAS28 (p < 0.001) and 0.43 units higher HAQ score (p < 0.001) compared to nulliparous women during the follow-up time, adjusted for age. In this subgroup, the average DAS28 and HAQ scores were significantly higher in parous women at all follow-up time points. Younger parous ACPA-negative women were significantly more likely to have DAS28 and HAQ values above the median compared to nulliparous women at all follow-up visits. No association between parity and severity of ACPA-positive disease was observed. Conclusions: Parity was a predictor of a more severe RA among ACPA-negative younger women, which might indicate that immunomodulatory changes during and after pregnancy affect RA severity, in particular for the ACPA-negative RA phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Article number358
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Pikwer et al.

Other keywords

  • Clinical outcome
  • Epidemiology
  • Hormonal factors
  • Parity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


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