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Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Oct;64(10):1494-9. Epub 2005 Mar 18.

Impact of pregnancy on health related quality of life evaluated prospectively in pregnant women with rheumatic diseases by the SF-36 health survey.

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Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology and Allergology, University Hospital, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.



To gain insight into patient experience of the disease course and health related quality of life during and after pregnancy in women with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.


10 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 10 patients with ankylosing spondylitis, and 29 age matched healthy pregnant controls were evaluated by the medical outcomes study short form 36 (SF-36) health survey once at each trimester and at 6, 12, and 24 weeks postpartum. A group of non-pregnant age matched female patients (40 rheumatoid arthritis, 16 ankylosing spondylitis) was studied for comparison.


Impaired physical dimensions as well as increased bodily pain was observed in healthy women in late pregnancy. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed improved physical functioning scores in the second trimester and reduced pain in the third trimester. Among pregnant patients, those with ankylosing spondylitis suffered the greatest impairment of health related quality of life during pregnancy. In all patient groups the physical impairment in the third trimester was less pronounced than in healthy controls. Mental health scores remained stable even with persisting active disease during pregnancy, or with a postpartum flare.


Pregnancy reduced physical functioning in healthy women and patients, but had no impact on mental and emotional health, even at times of disease aggravation. The pregnancy experience documented in our patients may be helpful when counselling patients contemplating pregnancy.

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