I have lupus and I want to have a baby. Can I?

A Look at Lupus and Pregnancy

Lupus patients can have children.
Lupus patients can have children. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Question: I have lupus and I want to have a baby. Can I?

Answer: Yes. In most instances, women with lupus can safely become pregnant and deliver a full-term, healthy infant. Furthermore, babies born to women with lupus have no greater chance of birth defects than those born to women without lupus.

The key is a carefully planned pregnancy and proper medical care. Lupus should be in remission for at least six months prior to conception, as active lupus could result in miscarriage or other serious complications.

Of note, 10 percent of lupus pregnancies end in miscarriage; 30 percent result in premature birth. Please note, too, that a vaginal birth may not be possible. Above all, make sure your obstetrician is experienced in managing high-risk pregnancies. If possible, find an OB who has experience treating patients with lupus. Also, the hospital where you plan to deliver your baby should be prepared to treat high-risk births and able to provide you with the specialized care you may need.

More Information about Lupus and Pregnancy

Between 2000 and 2003, there were nearly 17 million pregnancies of which nearly 14,000 were complicated by lupus. In other words 1 of 1,250 pregnancies occurs in woman with lupus.

Fortunately, advances in medicine have improved pregnancy outcomes in women with pregnancy.

Viable pregnancy in women with lupus depends on several factors including the following:

  • age
  • number of previous pregnancies carried to term (a measure called parity)
  • whether lupus is active during pregnancy
  • comorbid, or coexisting, medical conditions
  • presence of antiphospholipid antibodies

During pregnancy, lupus improves in about a third of women, worsens in a third and stays the same in a third. Quite frighteningly n some women, pregnancy can trigger a lupus flare without warning.

Of note, women with cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which is less common than systemic lupus erythematosus, don't exhibit pregancy-related complications attributable to lupus.

Overall, about 325 of 100,000 women with lupus experience serious disease or death attributable to lupus.

Here are some complications that can occur in pregnant women with lupus:

If you're thinking about having a baby and you have lupus please keep the following points in mind:

  • You should have no lupus disease activity in at least the 6 months preceding pregnancy.
  • You should not have any kidney problems (lupus nephritis) attributable to lupus.
  • You should not harbor lupus anticoagulant or have antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

Source:

Lupus: A Patient Care Guide for Nurses and Other Health Professionals, 3rd Edition, Patient Information Sheet #11, Pregnancy and Lupus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. September 2006.

Continue Reading