From the Journals

Axial SpA disease activity remains mostly stable throughout pregnancy


Key clinical point: Higher disease activity and lower physical well being correspond with late stage pregnancy.

Major finding: Disease activity appears to be highest in the second trimester, compared with 6 weeks post partum (mean BASDAI 3.97 vs. 3.46, P = .005).

Study details: A prospective study of 179 pregnancies in 166 Norwegian women with axSpA from a Norwegian health registry between 2006 and 2016.

Disclosures: The study was funded by the Research Fund of the Norwegian Organization for People With Rheumatic Diseases. None of the authors had any conflicts of interest to declare.

Source: Ursin K et al. Rheumatology. 2018 Mar 14. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/key047.



Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) disease activity in pregnant women appears to remain mostly stable, with slight worsening in the second trimester, according to results of a prospective study.

“In the largest prospective study to date exploring disease activity during pregnancy in women with axSpA, we found that the majority experienced stable, low disease activity,” Kristin Ursin, MD, of the Trondheim (Norway) University Hospital and her associates wrote in Rheumatology. “In accordance with two previous studies, we found a small increase in disease activity in the second trimester.”

Prior to this study, the disease activity of axSpA in pregnant women was not well known, with several previous studies presenting divergent results, the authors said. They designed and conducted a prospective study of 179 pregnancies in 166 Norwegian women who were included in the Norwegian nationwide register, RevNatus, between January 2006 and November 2016.

All women in the study fulfilled the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society criteria for axSpA and had seven clinic visits throughout their pregnancy: one before conception, one at each trimester, another at 6 weeks, and two visits 6 and 12 months after delivery. No differentiation was made between women with radiographic or nonradiographic axSpA. At each visit, patients’ disease activity was determined using the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), which is calculated based on six patient factors scored from 1 to 10, including: fatigue, back pain, peripheral joint pain and swelling, localized tenderness, duration of morning stiffness, and severity of morning stiffness. A disease score of 4 is commonly used to define active disease. Disease activity was also assessed by measuring C-reactive protein (CRP). Women’s function and health was also assessed using the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI), scored similarly to the BASDAI, and the RAND-36 questionnaire to assess general health.


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