Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE is an autoimmune disorder that can cause health problems during pregnancy.
Autoimmune disorders are health conditions that happen when antibodies (cells in the body that fight off infections) attack healthy tissue just about anywhere in the body by mistake. Most of the people who develop lupus are women and most of these women develop the condition between the ages of 15 and 44.
During pregnancy, lupus can increase the risk of these problems:
- Premature birth
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
- Lupus flares: you may experience flares during pregnancy or in the first few months after giving birth
With the right care, most women who do not have active lupus symptoms, can have successful pregnancies.
After birth most babies of mothers with lupus are healthy. Some babies, however, may face health risks such as those associated with premature birth and neonatal lupus. Neonatal lupus, which affects 3% of babies, is a temporary form of lupus that causes a rash and blood problems, but usually clears up by 6 months of age. But, up to half of these babies have a heart problem called heart block which causes a slow heartbeat. Heart block is often permanent and these babies may need a pacemaker to help make their heart beat regularly. (ped cardiologist?)
If you have lupus or think you have lupus symptoms, speak with your health care provider. She will closely monitor you and provide you with the care and treatment you need to have a healthy pregnancy.
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