While there have been great advancements in lupus research and treatment, a new study finds that rates of pre-eclampsia and preterm delivery (birth before 37 weeks) – two potentially serious pregnancy complications – have remained stable for women with lupus over the last three decades.
Researchers assessed pregnancy outcomes in 255 women with lupus and 604 women without lupus or other autoimmune diseases between the years of 1989 and 2020. They found rates of pre-eclampsia and preterm birth remain five times higher among the women with lupus compared to the general population.
They also found that lupus medication usage has changed very little over the last 30 years. While there has been some increased use in hydroxychloroquine over time, the use of aspirin remains unchanged despite mounting evidence of the beneficial effects of these drugs among pregnant women with lupus. Use of lupus medication was low overall throughout the 31-year study period, apart from frequent use of corticosteroids.
The findings emphasize the continued need to prioritize health education and care among pregnant women with lupus. To support these efforts, the Lupus Foundation of America has provided a three-year grant, funded by the Festa Family Foundation, to help fund the IMPACT study (IMprove Pregnancy in APS with Certolizumab Therapy). The IMPACT study is the first trial of a biologic therapy to prevent pregnancy complications in high-risk pregnancies in people with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with or without lupus. If successful, the study has the potential to provide a new approach to protecting pregnancies for people with lupus and countless other women at risk for these complications.
While nine out of 10 people with lupus are women, and the disease typically develops during childbearing years, a healthy pregnancy with lupus is still possible. Learn more about lupus and pregnancy.
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