Parental rheumatoid arthritis and childhood epilepsy

Neurology Journal

Ane Lilleøre Rom, PhD, Chun Sen Wu, PhD, Jørn Olsen, PhD, Damini Jawaheer, PhD, Merete Lund Hetland, PhD, Jakob Christensen, PhD, Bent Ottesen, PhD and Lina Steinrud Mørch, PhD



To assess the influence of parental rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on risk of epilepsy.


We performed a nationwide cohort study including all singletons born in Denmark from 1977 to 2008 (n = 1,917,723) through individual linkage to nationwide Danish registries. The children were followed for an average of 16 years. Main outcome measures were adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for epilepsy with onset in early childhood (29 days–4 years), late childhood (5–15 years), adolescence/adulthood (≥15 years), and at any age until the end of follow-up (December 31, 2010).


Compared to unexposed children, children exposed to maternal RA had an increased risk of early and late childhood epilepsy (adjusted HRs 1.34 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13–1.60] and 1.26 [95% CI 1.13–1.41]), while children exposed to maternal RA had no increased risk of epilepsy in adolescence/adulthood (HR 1.15 [95% CI 0.92–1.45]). Paternal RA was not associated with an overall risk of epilepsy in the offspring (HR 0.96 [95% CI 0.81–1.15]) or at any age. Children exposed to maternal RA in utero had a more pronounced increased risk of early childhood epilepsy than children exposed to mothers who were diagnosed with RA after childbirth (HR 1.90 [95% CI 1.26–2.86] vs HR 1.26 [95% CI 1.03–1.52], respectively [p = 0.16]).


Exposure to maternal RA was associated with an increased risk of childhood epilepsy, while exposure to paternal RA was not, which indicates that changes in the intrauterine environment may play a role.


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