Monday, May 19, 2008

Premature Birth and Autoimmune Diseases

I was born severely premature (almost 3 months early).

And I’m wondering if anyone knows if there is any connection between premature birth and subsequent diagnosis of autoimmune diseases.

I know I’ve suggested before that I refuse to look back on earlier parts of my life and question them.

However, until this point in my life, I’ve been relatively lucky health wise for a severely premature baby born in 1985.

So I find myself having to wonder if there is any correlation between my premature birth and my recent diagnosis with multiple connective tissue/autoimmune diseases.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with information about this, but as I’ve suggested before, I’m trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together and make some sense out of all this for myself.

34 comments:

  1. I was just researching this topic and found your blog. I am currently on the Marshall Protocol due to an "autoimmune" disease. The theory behind the MP is that bacterial load--from pre-birth, including from both parents but primarily the mother, to what you accumulate in your life time--determine what chronic illness you will develop. And by bacterial load what is of most concern is cell wall deficient bacteria, which hide in the macrophages and hijack the immune system.

    At any rate, recent research indicates that the amniotic fluid of pregnant mothers of premies has a higher bacterial load. Two friends of mine growing up ended up having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and one died of cancer (people with CFS have higher than normal cancer rates); I also have CFS. All three of us were the first children conceived by our mothers not long after they received a series of vaccines to be able to come to the U.S. as WWII brides. Vaccines are likely carriers of all sorts of bacteria and when they became pregnant, their immune systems had probably not had the opportunity to kill off all the invaders.

    I was a premie, and I have the tiny finger nails and toe nails to prove it. I never asked it of my friend who died of cancer, but I remember her nails being small too. As for the other friend, I will have to wait until I am well enough to see her to check that out.

    From there, we grew up together, and so we shared a lot of the same exposures. I take that to be the reason we ended up with the same immune disease.

    So I've been trying to find out if there are any long term studies showing a correlation b/w premies and autoimmune diseases. The studies I've seen so far follow babies into their teen years mainly. I'm still looking... have a lot of brain fog and so I'm not very good at researching on the Net.

    Best to you.

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    1. I too was researching this and found this blog. I was born in 1973 at 28 weeks, 4 lbs, going down to just over 2 afterwards. I spent the first four months in an incubator. I've always had bad allergies, and I have severe asthma and now copd. I've also been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder recently...

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  2. I did find this study: http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Premature-Babies-Can-Lead-Normal-Lives-7670-1/

    "However in a sub-analysis, a larger proportion of extremely low birth weight participants, 26%, were not employed due to chronic illness or permanent disability compared to normal birth weight subjects (15%)."

    That's nearly twice the risk.

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  3. I was born in 1957, 2 months premature,I weighed 4lbs. something and went down to 3lbs. something. I have had terrible allergies my whole life and developed RA when I was 40. I have always wondered about a connection considering they are both an over reaction of your immune system. There is only 1 other person in my family that has RA and he also was a premie and had serious health issues at birth. I think there are many studies under way to sort these questions out. I am treated monthly with an infusion of Actemra that is a huge benefit to me,but also has undesirable potentially serious side effects. Medicine is about to change forever with the new stem cell treatments being studied and in many countries being used for an unlimited number of illnesses with wonderful success. I hope there will be treatments more easily available to persons with autoimmune diseases here in the US. You can get treated here for RA with adipose ( stem cells from your own fat) but last I checked it would cost over 12 thousand dollars a treatment and sometimes it takes more than 1. I feel hope is on the horizon, but I wish they would hurry up.

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    1. Interestingly I was also born in 1957, 6-8 weeks premature. I have psoriatic arthritis and like you, are taking some intense medications. I am interested in anything you have discovered about the link between prematurity and autoimmune diseases in our cohort.
      I wish you all the best,
      Rochelle

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  4. Wow, your story seriously is so close to mine. I also was 3 months early (just about), and have wondered if it was linked to autoimmune issues. thanks for sharing!

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  5. Hi there,
    I work as a research assistant in a group who studies preterm birth genetics. I was searching online for some information when I came across your blog. I thought you would also be interested in the below article.
    If you cannot gain access to a full copy of the article, I may email you a copy.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23734091

    Front Neurosci. 2013 May 21;7:79. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00079. eCollection 2013.
    The immune consequences of preterm birth.
    Melville JM, Moss TJ.
    Source

    The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University Clayton, VIC, Australia.
    Abstract

    Preterm birth occurs in 11% of live births globally and accounts for 35% of all newborn deaths. Preterm newborns have immature immune systems, with reduced innate and adaptive immunity; their immune systems may be further compromised by various factors associated with preterm birth. The immune systems of preterm infants have a smaller pool of monocytes and neutrophils, impaired ability of these cells to kill pathogens, and lower production of cytokines which limits T cell activation and reduces the ability to fight bacteria and detect viruses in cells, compared to term infants. Intrauterine inflammation is a major contributor to preterm birth, and causes premature immune activation and cytokine production. This can induce immune tolerance leading to reduced newborn immune function. Intrauterine inflammation is associated with an increased risk of early-onset sepsis and likely has long-term adverse immune consequences. Requisite medical interventions further impact on immune development and function. Antenatal corticosteroid treatment to prevent newborn respiratory disease is routine but may be immunosuppressive, and has been associated with febrile responses, reductions in lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine production, and increased risk of infection. Invasive medical procedures result in an increased risk of late-onset sepsis. Respiratory support can cause chronic inflammatory lung disease associated with increased risk of long-term morbidity. Colonization of the infant by microorganisms at birth is a significant contributor to the establishment of the microbiome. Caesarean section affects infant colonization, potentially contributing to lifelong immune function and well-being. Several factors associated with preterm birth alter immune function. A better understanding of perinatal modification of the preterm immune system will allow for the refinement of care to minimize lifelong adverse immune consequences.

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  6. Funny, like some folks here, I decided to Google premature birth and autoimmune stuff. I was born in Sept 1965 and due in Feb 1966. 1-1/2 lbs at birth. In my 48 years never had serious health issues pop up until Jan 2014. Rash & stuff couple weeks ago. Currently, seeing Dr and possibly a Derm Dr down the road. So, is it a coincidence? Know nothing about parents medical history, so that doesn't help me.

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  7. hi! i also was born 3 months early weight 1lb and yes i also have autoimmune diseases. i have RA and fibro and Gerd. I think there is totally a connection

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  8. I've been questioning the link between the two myself. My daughter was born 15 weeks early and at 12 years old developed type 1 diabetes and Hosimotos which are both auto immune syndromes and we have no family history of either disease. She has been very healthy otherwise.

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  9. Strange...My 23 yr old daughter was born very premature---15 weeks early, 1 lb 6 oz. She went to Dr. last week and back this morning for her lab results. Is to see Hematologist next week---Leaning toward an auto-immune problem. Not our first go around. Went through similar symptoms 6 years ago. Something within me led me to look up premature birth and autoimmune diseases. Here I am. Gotta be something to it---but I have found in the past that Drs. do not pay much attention to the premature birth and problems she may be having.

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  10. Hi my name is Lindsey, I was born in 1989 at 25 weeks gestation or 3 months early as well!!! I weighed 1lb 8oz. I was recently diagnosed with RA, Lupus, sjogrens and raynauds. I hope to find any connection! Thank you for posting your blog!!!

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  11. Same story here. I was born three months early on April 15, 1971 (due date was July 4th). I've had horrible allergies and asthma my whole life. Diagnosed with a severe gluten sensitivity in 2012, which they are now saying was caused by Dysautonomia, a breakddown of the central nervous system. I also have Raynaud's. Both of my kids have Dysautonomia and eczema, and my son also has MANY serious food allergies. My daughter also has mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) and has been homebound for the last 4 months. My mom has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I'm sure that these are all related somehow. I keep searching for answers to this question and haven't been able to find much. One thing that doctors have confirmed is that my allergies, immune issues, etc. are most likely related to the fact that I was born via c-section and was kept in a sterile incubabor for the first few months. My understanding is that infants' immune systems become stronger if they are exposed to bacteria in the birth canal and in the environment early on. - Lisa

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  12. I can't believe how many of us are experiencing the same type of illness, and what the correlation might be to being a preemie. I was born 3 months early, just a little under 2 pounds. I've always struggled with low immune function as well as asthma. Diagnosed with Hashimotos after my son was born, and now am struggling with pituitary function.

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  13. interesting....23 years old, was born 2 months premature and weighed around 4 lbs. i was just diagnosed with MCTD and have had awful allergies my whole life as well as chronic GI issues (undiagnosed) since childhood. there has to be some sort of connection

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  14. I've contemplated this issue myself, at a 2-month early premie with multiple autoimmune issues, and I keep coming back to the idea that correlation doesn't equal causation. Perhaps there is something about being born premature that predisposes us to autoimmune health risks. However, perhaps our mothers' bodies were trying to spontaneously abort us because we carried innate genetic defects which predisposed us to autoimmune issues. Survival of the fittest and all that.

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  15. Hello,
    I was born a little over 6 weeks premature. I have suffered with an autoimmune disease my whole life I wouldn't have a bowel movement for weeks on end and when i finally did they would be the size of pebbles. It wasn't until I was 19 when I under went a colonoscopy to discover from my doctor that premature babies are at a much higher risk for developing immune disease because the last things to develop in a child is not only the lungs (which is believed to be the last thing to develop) but also the babies intestines. We as humans get our overall health from our GI tracts. So when that isn't fully developed you are more likely than not to develop or have autoimmune issues and diseases. Hope this helps. I've done a lot of research on this as I struggle on a daily basis with bacterial infections and fatigue as well as severe digestion issues. Many of these issues effect my daily life, down to my sex life. I am now 26 years old in case you were wondering.

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  16. Hi, I was 3 months premature in 1957, 2 lbs, and have always been healrhy and happy. Im now 58 and have never had any serious health issues except something undiagnosed but now resolved, tingling/numbness in extremities, some drs thought Lyme/cf. Anyway now resolved. I keep my thoughts on what I want to experience, health and happiness! Although we can't remember our experiences when we were first born, I believe we were blessed and taken care of by wonderful nurses and doctors. All the best to all of you

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  17. I was three months premature, my sister was two. We both have auto immune diseases. She has chrones and it looks like I may have RA, still waiting on a firm diagnosis.

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  18. Wow....I was born almost three months premature weighed under 3 pounds. I have asthma, seborrheic dermatits, raynauds..I think we are showing some connections

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  19. I was born 8-10 weeks early in 1990. I had a slew of problems upon being born. Everything from respiratory issues to sepsis. I required 16 blood/plasma transfusions before 2months of age.I've had issues with a variety of illnesses my entire life from chronic sinus and strep throat infections, to osteomyelitis, to an "unknown" illness that reoccurs every few years. I've had EBV as well. I've been diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Raynauds, and GI issues that we're still trying to pin down (celiac,etc). That's just an abbreviated run down of my crazy health history.

    I ended up on this site, like many of you, trying to find some connections between premature birth and autoimmune diseases.

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  20. I was born in 1957 two months preemie. 4lbs. I am 58 now and having numerous issues. Likely RA. Seborrhea derm.of scalp and fibromyalgia. Born with bad knees. Would really appreciate hearing from similar people. Blessings. Michele

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  21. For all of you that experience problems every couple of years or so and already have an auto immune disease make sure to get an MRI of brain and spinal cord if possible. I was diagnoised with Graves Disease in my mid 20's and every few years my life seemed to spin out of control. I was fatigued all the time, constipation (2 or 3 days) and thought that was normal, and other symptoms that came and went. Anyway, get the MRI for comparison, they finally figured out I have MS, Multiple Sclerosis, and have had it for about 30 years. If I had been diagnosed properly 30 years ago There may not have been as many scars on my brain. Good Luck

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  22. Could it be that the reason behind being born premature is also the reason for autoimmune disorder?
    I am searching for an answer to a slightly different problem. My best friend's husband has AD and she went into premature labor and lost both of her babies... :(

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  23. I was born 15 weeks premature in 1979 weighing 1lb 2oz and spent 22 weeks in the hospital. I've lately been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and palmour pustular psoriasis Ra and fibromyalgia. I found this page while searching for links between prematurity and autoimmune diseases.

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  24. it's a very helpful article, In my opinion, every mom wanna-be should understand that being pregnant is a miracle, so they will take care their body with a great love and understanding.

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  25. Preemie birth here also. 2 pound birth weight. I suffer from Raynaud's, Asthma, Psoriasis, Sebhoreic Dermatitis. Have wondered too if there was a link. Glad to find this blog

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  26. I was born 2 month premature weighing 4 lbs 1 oz and then lost weight to 3 lbs 6 oz. Spent my first month in an incubator. I have Graves disease, GERD, Psoriasis,
    IBS. Also had congenital Uterine abnormalities resulting in multiple miscarriages. Wondering if my medical issues (especially auto-immune problems) are related to being born prematurely?

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  27. OMG! Recently diagnosed with Lupus but also have other autoimmune diseases! I was born 2 months premature and weighed 4 lbs. I would definitely say there must be a correlation between prematurity and autoimmune diseases!

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  28. Wow, this confirms my suspicions! I was born 2 months early in 1893, 4lbs 1/2oz. I've always had bad knees, and suffer from very bad allergies, asthma, seborrheic dermatitis, and now guttate psoriasis. I always thought the connection of premature birth and auto immune disorders was possible... I feel like this confirms it. Preemie power guys!

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  29. I was born in 1982 at 26 weeks weighing 2 lbs. my mom was eclamptic, convulsing and had a heart attack. She was transferred to Memphis to a specialty hospital just for women and high risk pregnancies and babies. Suddenly at age 30 my world came crashing down with a mile long list of symptoms that is ever evolving. I’ve done a genetic panel that has answered a lot for me. Currently my Autoimmune Diagnoses are; MCTD, severe neuropathy, temporal arteritis which is giant cell arteritis, TIAs which we feel is related to the former, I’ve had to have 2 ERCPs with stints bc if extensive scarring of my biliary ducts and I continue to have pain and my genetic profile reveals primary biliary cirrhosis/sclerosing cholangitis, I’ve had unmanageable GERD for many years and on scope eosinophils have been picked up well DNA also reveals eosinophilic esophagitis, I have MCAS, Dercums disease this is the one that took my career, the main other one is ehlers danlos vascular type which pits u at high risk for aneurysms, bleeds and I have to take blood thinners. I know I’m leaving out some. I am a train wreck. I’ve always said it all goes back to being born premature.

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  30. Born on March 29th 1981 due date was May 5th was in an incubator for the first few months weighed 4 lbs 14 oz after my mom was in labor for roughly two days. As a baby I was given gamma globulin shots which at the time were untested and was monitored for water on the brain. As a child I had recurring tonsillitis constantly and always had a nervous stomach. There's a lot of stress in my life that I'm not going to get into is this post but fast forward to my twenties and I got pregnant with my son while taking birth control.. he was born at 41 weeks uneventful pregnancy normal birth with the exception of me not knowing I was pregnant do to completely normal menstration until I was roughly five months along. after that I started having depression kind of just chalked it up to baby blues. miscarried at 16 weeks when my son was a year-and-a-half had to have two bags of blood and had my daughter a year-and-a-half later.. with it being another uneventful pregnancy until we were in a rollover accident at six months and then I was put on no work until she was born at 39 weeks normal delivery. When my daughter was 3 months old I had so little energy that I couldn't hardly take care of my kids and went to the doctor to find out I had Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and irritable bowel syndrome. Now my kids are teenagers I've had Hashimoto's for 16 years and over the last year have developed even more problems I found out that I am at the very least gluten intolerant I tested negative on to Celiac tests but I'm not too sure that that wasn't false negatives, I've been tested for MS I have been tested for rheumatoid arthritis which came back negative and I have been tested for Lupus which came back negative. I am vitamin D deficient even with taking supplements and have been experiencing pancreatic pain and have now started having issues regulating my blood sugar correctly put points to insulin resistance. In addition to not being able to eat gluten I now react to tomatoes peppers fermented foods and read made if I eat too much of it. It's kind of comforting with the autoimmune issues and digestive complications that I have to know that I'm not the only one that wondered about the relationship between being premature and possibly the relationship of having gamma globulin shots to boost your immunity and having autoimmune diseases and digestive issues and digestive issues later in life. I wish everyone here the best with the awful struggle of having an autoimmune disease šŸ’›

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  31. I was born in 1978 at 2 lb some ounces. I was almost 3 months early. I've had problems with my joints since I was a child but it was never properly diagnosed. My illness was not taken seriously and I recently self-diagnosed psoriatic arthritis and went to a rheumatologist to find I in fact have psoriatic arthritis. My doctor also suspects that I have ankylosing spondylitis. She's trying to get an MRI to confirm that but I have to do physical therapy first before the insurance company will approve the MRI. If I didn't research for myself I would have never known. In my 20s I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I also have raynauds disease and have actual allergic reactions to extreme cold and heat. I've had that since I was a teenager and never knew it was an actual autoimmune issue. I used to break out in hives after playing field hockey on a cold morning. It was the exposed skin apparently. just like each of you on finding a direct connection between all of this and being premature. I was adopted and given up because I was sick from birth and my parents didn't know how to handle me. They were very young and not equipped with the resources and support to properly cure for me. Luckily a loving and knowledgeable family adopted me as a baby. It's been a difficult journey for us all going through all this illness. My parents seem to blame themselves. My adoptive parents that is. Strength and well wishes to each of you as you continue your journey.

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