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Biologic use during pregnancy seems not to increase the risk of opportunistic infections in infants

Fresh findings on pregnancies and infant health of rheumatoid arthritis patients

According to new research findings, infants of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients using a biologic during pregnancy do not have an elevated risk of infections.

In this observational study, data were collected from 502 pregnancies where the mother with RA was treated with a biologic, compared to 231 pregnancies of RA patients that did not use any biologics during pregnancy, and 423 pregnancies of healthy women. Follow-up data on infection rates of serious and/or opportunistic infections in the infants were collected from their pediatricians for up to one year after birth.

Serious or opportunistic infections occurred in 4.0% of the infants born to mothers with RA that used biologics during pregnancy. However, serious or opportunistic infections occurred also in 2.6% of the infants who were born to mothers with RA who did not use biologics and in 2.1% of the infants born to healthy mothers.

Even infants of women with RA whose last biologic dose was after 32 weeks of gestation had approximately the same risk of infections like infants of mothers with RA who did not use any biologic during pregnancy.

“These results should be reassuring for women with RA who need to be treated throughout pregnancy with a biologic,” said Prof. Christina Chambers, Co-Director of the Center for Better Beginnings, University of California, San Diego (CA/USA). “This is true especially with later pregnancy exposure when the placental transfer is increased.”

Chambers CD et al. Serious or Opportunistic Infections in Infants Born to Pregnant Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Treated with a Biologic Medication. Abstract No 1785, 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, November 3-8, 2017, San Diego (CA/USA).