Do you have psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis? Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Dr. Eichenfield, a pediatric and adolescent dermatologist with Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, explains what's known about psoriasis and pregnancy. He tells you how some medications to treat psoriasis can affect you and your developing baby. However, doctors are still trying to learn more.
Arthritis is a term that refers to swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is one type of arthritis that occurs in some individuals who have the skin condition psoriasis. Studies suggest that PsA may occur more frequently when a person has severe skin psoriasis and when there is a family history of PsA (Tey et al. 2010).
At any one time about 1-2 per 1000 persons has PsA (Madland et al. 2005). It is just as likely to occur in women as men, and therefore women can have this condition during the child-bearing years. Since withholding treatment could potentially lead to irreversible changes, a medicine discussion with your doctors is especially important for women with PsA who are planning a pregnancy or have learned they are pregnant.
Although it has been poorly studied, a study of ten women with PsA (who had twelve pregnancies) suggested that PsA does not negatively affect pregnancy outcomes (Ostensen 1988). These women all had mild skin psoriasis. For the majority, but not all, of these women, PsA symptoms improved during pregnancy but returned to pre-pregnancy disease activity after delivery. Doctors are not able to predict for any one woman whether her symptoms will improve, stay the same, or worsen during or after pregnancy.
Madland TM et al. (2005) Prevalence, disease manifestations, and treatment of psoriatic arthritis in Western Norway. J Rheumatol 32(10):1918-22.
Ostensen M (1988) Pregnancy in Psoriatic Arthritis. Scand J Rheumatology 17:67-70.
Ostensen M (1992) The effect of pregnancy on akylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Reprod Immunol 28(3-4):235-7.
Tey HL et al. (2010) Risk factors associated with having psoriatic arthritis in patients with cutaneous psoriasis. J Dermatol 37(5):426-30.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has a direct effect on brain development. See our Fact SheetStress
It is unlikely that stress alone is able to cause physical birth defects. See our FACTSHEET.