HOW LUPUS AFFECTS THE BABY
Most babies who are carried to term aren’t at risk of any additional conditions (there are no increased odds of birth defects, for instance). In fact, a 2015 study of women who became pregnant while their lupus was under control found that most had healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies as long as they didn’t experience certain risk factors. These included having active lupus disease, high blood pressure requiring medication, low platelet counts and a positive lupus anticoagulant test result during the first trimester. Complications include increased risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight and preterm birth, among other more serious but rare conditions.
About 2 percent of moms with lupus have antibodies in their blood (anti-Ro or anti-SSA), and their babies are born with neonatal lupus. This condition can range in severity — from just a facial rash or low blood cell count to more serious heart conditions — so all pregnant women with SLE should be screened for these antibodies. Most of the time, the less serious symptoms in the baby disappear completely after six months and the baby is just fine. The more serious complication of congenital heart block can be monitored during pregnancy and treated, if needed, after birth.
HOW LUPUS IS TREATED DURING PREGNANCY
If your SLE remains in remission throughout the course of your pregnancy, you’ll likely not need any special treatment during your nine months. If your lupus is active or if you experience a flare-up, however, your medical team will work with you to treat your disease in a way that’s safest for you and your growing baby. Just as the treatment for lupus is individualized for non-pregnant women, so too will your treatment be tailored to your specific needs during your pregnancy. In other words, there’s no single course of SLE treatment that works for everyone during pregnancy.