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Expert Answers to Top Questions About Rheumatoid Arthritis

What causes RA? How is RA diagnosed? What about RA treatment? These questions and more

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Will RA affect my chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby?

Women with RA do not appear to have decreased fertility, and they often go into remission during pregnancy. Women may have a flare within six to eight weeks of giving birth. Breastfeeding might be problematic because if a woman has a flare, she will need to resume taking her medications, and RA medications can’t be taken while breastfeeding because the drugs can get into the milk supply.

Are my children at risk for developing RA if I have it?

They are at a slightly increased risk of developing RA or another autoimmune disease. [But] we don’t recommend that people with no symptoms have any type of screening test at this point.

Can I live a long life with RA?

Yes. If you have active RA, it’s important to treat the underlying inflammation. This will have positive effects on your quality of life and your life expectancy. People with RA seem to have a greater chance of having heart disease … but treating the inflammation can help reduce that risk. Managing the traditional risk factors for heart disease helps, too -- maintaining an appropriate weight and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels if they are elevated.

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Reviewed on February 25, 2009

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