I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend with my adorable 3 month old nephew. Many of my cousins, friends and co-workers have also just had babies or are pregnant. Of course all of the cuteness around me has led me to think about my future baby plans as well. Unfortunately, family planning for a woman with JRA can be more complicated then the typical woman. Many medications need to be stopped 6 months to one year in advance and there are few medical treatment options that have been researched to be safe during pregnancy. Some women experience a remission (or decrease in symptoms) of their RA during pregnancy while others do not.
There have been many times in my life where I have heard that there is not enough research on treatments or long-term effects of JRA or Uveitis. As a child with JRA, my family often had to balance the risks of unknown medication side effects with improved quality of life and decreased joint damage. There is still not enough research about effective Uveitis treatments. However, I find the lack of research about JRA during pregnancy the most unsettling. JRA affects over 300,000 children, the majority of these young girls. These girls are going to eventually be “All Grown Up” one day soon and will need to make difficult decisions about their medical treatment and decision to have a family with limited research to help guide them.
As a result of this, I chose to be interviewed and share my experience, thoughts and concerns with the Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF). You can read my article here, Cure Arthritis Article. The ANRF’s mission is to provide initial research funding to scientists with new ideas to cure Arthritis and related autoimmune disease. I hope that sharing my experience will raise awareness and lead to research in this area to help others make informed decisions about their future.