Lupus and pregnancy
Lupus is also known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body produces antibodies that mistakenly attack healthy cells throughout the body. Lupus and other autoimmune diseases can cause swelling, pain and organ damage. SLE usually develops in women of child bearing age and can have an effect on pregnancy.
The exact cause of SLE is unknown however, it is believed that genes and viruses my play a role.
What are the symptoms ?
Some of the symptoms include the following :
- muscle pain
- a characteristic red, butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
- chest pain during breathing
- swollen and painful joints
Symptoms may range from mild to severe with periods of remission and flare ups.
What is the effect of lupus on pregnancy ?
SLE may cause the following problems during pregnancy.
You are less likely to have pregnancy complications if you’ve been in remission or had your condition under good control for at least 6 months before pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider if you have SLE and planning to get pregnant.
What is the effect of lupus on your baby ?
Most people with this disease go on to have healthy babies. However here are some possible pregnancy complications your baby is more likely to face.
- premature birth
- neonatal lupus which is a temporary form of lupus in babies.
Do I need special care during pregnancy ?
Yes, you will be monitored closely by your doctor during pregnancy. This will make it easier for flare ups and health issues to be treated easily during pregnancy. You may be cared for by
- a high risk obstetrician, a doctor who specializes in taking care of women with serious pregnancy complications
- a rheumatologist who is a doctor that specializes in disorders having to do with inflammation or pain in muscles and joints
How is lupus treated ?
This autoimmune disease is treated with different medications. It is important to talk to your health care provider before getting pregnant if you are taking any lupus medication. Some of these medications include :
- anti inflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrine® or Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®) to help relieve joint pain and fever.
- corticosteroids such as Prednisone (Sterapred®) to help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms
- immunosuppressive such as Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
- malaria medications such as Hydoxychloroquine (Plaquenil®) to help prevent flare ups and relieve symptoms such as joint pain and tiredness
Pregnancy and lupus. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/lupus/guide/pregnancy-lupus.Accessed February 19 , 2015.. Accessed February 19,
Lupus and pregnancy. The Johns Hopkins Lupus Center . http://www.hopkinslupus.org/lupus-info/lifestyle-additional-information/lupus-pregnancy/ .Accessed February 19, 2014.