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Poverty and Race Make Lupus Worse

Poverty and race are making the health of lupus patients in the United States worse, two new studies suggest.
One study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, linked poverty to an increased risk of organ damage from the autoimmune disease.
“Persistent poverty and being poor in an area of concentrated poverty seem to worsen the amount of disease damage over time, while exiting poverty may alleviate it,” said study author Edward Yelin, a retired adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. “We have also shown that chronic stress associated with poverty may play an important role in why the poor experience more damage. Such stresses may include having to deal with food, housing and medical care insecurity.”
In lupus, the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues and organs, causing damage to the joints, kidneys, skin and heart, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, lupus is more common among women and black folks.
A second study, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, found adverse pregnancy outcomes were about twice as common among pregnant black and Hispanic women than their white counterparts.
Among black women, education and income were connected to outcomes such as fetal death, preterm delivery and fetal growth restriction, in which an unborn baby fails to grow at a normal rate.
“At present, we must be vigilant in educating and monitoring pregnant patients at increased risk of complications,” said study leader Jane Salmon a research professor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. She added that more research is needed to understand these differences, as well as how and when to take action to prevent them.
Neither study proved a cause-and-effect link, only associations between lupus damage and factors such as race and poverty.


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