Drug insight: Anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy for inflammatory arthropathies during reproduction, pregnancy and lactation

Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. 2007 Mar;3(3):156-64. doi: 10.1038/ncprheum0426.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists are widely used to reduce disease activity and joint damage, and to improve health-related quality of life in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or psoriatic arthritis. To date, no increased risk of embryotoxicity or teratogenicity, or adverse pregnancy outcome (such as birth defects, premature birth, and low birth weight) has been reported in patients with inflammatory arthropathies treated with anti-TNF therapy, compared with the general population. However, the available data are limited, and methotrexate, which is commonly used in combination with anti-TNF drugs, is teratogenic. Until more data are available, no firm conclusions can be reached regarding the safety of anti-TNF therapy in pregnancy. Nevertheless, in selected cases where there is high disease activity, anti-TNF therapy might be recommended, depending on the results of individual risk-benefit analyses. Fully informed consent from the mother is needed in such cases. Anti-TNF agents are not usually used during lactation, although the risk of toxicity is probably negligible.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Lactation / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / complications
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha