The awareness of pregnancy-related physiologic changes and complications is critical for the appropriate assessment and management of pregnant patients with systemic autoimmune diseases. The overlapping features of physiologic and pathological changes, selected autoantibodies, and the use of potentially teratogenic medications can complicate their management during pregnancy. While pregnancy in lupus patients presents an additional risk to an already complex situation, in patients with no disease activity, the risk of a future pregnancy-related complication is relatively low. Anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies increase the risk of neonatal lupus erythematosus, eg, photosensitive rash and irreversible congenital heart block. Antiphospholipid antibodies increase the risk of pregnancy morbidity, eg, fetal loss and early preeclampsia. Pregnancy usually has a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis; however, a disease flare is common during the postpartum period. Both the rheumatologist and the obstetrician should partner throughout the pregnancy to manage patients for successful outcomes.
Taraborelli, M. and Erkan, D. (2015) Pregnancy-Related Challenges in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases. Journal of Infusion Nursing. 38(5), p.360–368.
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