Can being pregnant cause a woman gout?
Pregnancy is a stage in a woman’s life where she experiences many changes with her body and causes many pregnancy symptoms like mood swings, water retention, allergic reactions, nausea and breast tenderness. Did you know that pregnant women can also develop gout during pregnancy?
Gout during pregnancy is rare but it does occur and women are at a higher risk of developing gout when pregnant. Why does this happen? Due to the increased weight during pregnancy and the altered hormonal levels, this can spike uric acid levels causing gout to pregnant women who are unable to control the uric acid production during this period. Women that have a family history of gout are at a higher risk of developing gout during pregnancy and those women who have already experienced gout prior to being pregnant are at a higher risk as well.
The uric acid crystallizes and gets deposited in the joints, tendons or tissue surrounding the joint and can affect the big toe, fingers, elbow, wrist, ankle and knee in pregnant women. Obviously this makes sleep very difficult due to the pain but symptoms can also include fatigue and fever.
It is very important to treat gout during the pregnancy to limit the discomfort it may cause. It’s recommended to restrict medication while pregnant, it’s better to achieve optimal uric acid levels via lifestyle and dietary changes. First, make sure to drink plenty of water every day, at least 8 to 12 glasses. The water may help dilute the uric acid and flush it out from the kidneys. Drinking lots of water will also help avoid having water retention a common symptom during pregnancy, plus it will promote a better metabolism.
Following a gout diet as outlined on this website and my eBook by limiting red meats, poultry and other meats. Avoid organ meats and seafood entirely. You want to avoid excessive protein intake since it may worsen your gout. Zero tolerance on alcohol but that is already common among pregnant women. Basically, eat most of your daily calories as complex carbohydrates like fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain breads, pastas and rice. Carefully plan your diet with your doctor to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
A recent study found that pregnant women who consumed high fructose diets in pregnancy experienced higher levels of triglycerides and uric acid. Uric acid can lead to gout if not careful.
Gout Medication During Pregnancy
Concerning medication, there is a 2010 Israeli study that states that colchicine is safe to take while pregnant.
“Because colchicine crosses the placenta, and has been linked to birth defects in some animal studies, concerns have been raised that it could be harmful in pregnancy, especially since it may affect cell division”, Ornoy and colleagues note.
The researchers followed 238 women who had taken colchicine while pregnant and 964 who had not. Note that less than 1% took colchicine to treat gout, it was mostly used to treat Mediterranean fever which mostly strikes people of Jewish, Turkish, Armenian or Arabic descent. Colchicine is used often to treat this illness which leads to inflammation and fever. It radically improves the odds of a woman to carry a baby to term.
At the end, what they found was that the group of women who took the colchicine had 4.7% of the babies born with major birth defects compared to the 3.2% of the babies who were not exposed to colchicine. So there was no statistical difference to presume colchicine may be harmful to the foetus.
But there was some important insights from this study. Moms who took colchicine during the pregnancy had their babies born at 39 weeks compared to 40 weeks for non-exposed babies. 15% of the babies were born prematurely compared to 6%, again for the non-exposed babies. The average birth-weight for colchicine-exposed babies was 6.6 pounds compared to 7.3 pounds!
Always consult with your doctor but if you can avoid treating gout with colchicine, then try and do so, although as you can see, there is no evidence that it’s really that harmful. But why not be drug-free during your pregnancy? For other gout treatments make sure to also read my post on the topic.
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