Pregnancy May Be Riskier for Women With Lupus

THURSDAY, April 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with lupus face potential complications, including a greater risk of premature birth, according to a new U.S. study.

A 10-year audit of hospital records found that these women have more than twice the risk of giving birth to a baby who is premature or growth-restricted. The audit also found that blood transfusions are nearly four times more likely for moms-to-be with lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Moreover, they are 15 times more likely to develop kidney failure during delivery as mothers who don’t have lupus, according to the report published online April 25 in RMD Open.

“Despite extensive efforts over the years, there remains substantial risk for both maternal and fetal complications,” the researchers said in a journal news release.

While maternal and fetal deaths in women with lupus had dropped over the years, it wasn’t clear whether rates of severe illness were also lower. The researchers, including Dr. Bella Mehta of the Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, used 2008 to 2017 data from the National Inpatient Sample to study the issue.

The sample contains information on more than 7 million U.S. hospital stays every year.

About 90% of Americans with lupus are women. The research team estimated more than 51,000 pregnant women with lupus were admitted to the hospital to deliver their babies during the study period.

Women with lupus tended to be older than women without the autoimmune condition, about 30 years compared to 28. They also were more likely to be Black, and more likely to have Medicare, the publicly funded insurance program.

Significantly more of the women with lupus had co-existing conditions, the study authors noted.

Pregnant women with lupus were over three times more likely to have a serious pregnancy-related complication called eclampsia or abnormal blood clotting throughout the body's blood vessels. They were also 11 times more likely to have heart and peripheral vascular disorders, and more likely to have general medical issues, the findings showed.

Their babies were more likely to be growth-restricted (8% compared to 3% of women without lupus), and to be born prematurely (about 15% compared to 7%).

“Our study demonstrates that fetal morbidity and severe maternal morbidity occur at a higher rate in patients with SLE compared with those without. This quantitative work can help inform and counsel patients with SLE during pregnancy and planning,” the study team concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on lupus.

SOURCE: RMD Open, news release, April 25, 2023

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