In pregnant women with lupus, treatment with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is linked to a reduced risk of premature labor, high blood pressure during pregnancy and preeclampsia – a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication. Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug, also known by the commercial name Plaquenil®, commonly used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like lupus.
Researchers analyzed data from nine separate studies involving a total of 1,132 pregnancies in women with lupus from around the world and compared health outcomes among those treated with HCQ during their pregnancy (43%) to those who were not treated with HCQ (57%). Overall, risk of premature birth, gestational hypertension (maternal high blood pressure during pregnancy) and preeclampsia were significantly lower in the HCQ group. HCQ treatment did not have an impact on likelihood of live birth, stillbirth or miscarriage, however. It also did not affect the risk of HELLP syndrome (a blood and liver disorder in pregnancy), gestational diabetes, congenital birth defects, low birth weight, or any other maternal or fetal health outcomes assessed.
Research to improve pregnancy outcomes for women with lupus is ongoing. The American College of Rheumatology recommends HCQ treatment for all women with lupus unless otherwise indicated. The Lupus Foundation of America is helping to fund research in this critical area with the IMPACT study, the first trial of a biologic therapy to prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes in high-risk pregnancies in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with or without systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication and learn more about planning for pregnancy when you have lupus.
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