Pregnancy Outcome in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is Improving: Results from a Case Control Study and Literature Review
We determined the outcome of all pregnancies in SLE patients in our lupus cohort between 1991 and 1997. The women were advised that pregnancy was acceptable if the disease had been inactive for 6 months (SLEDAI < or = (4 at 2 serial examinations) and daily prednisone dose was below 10 mg. Patients were advised against pregnancy in case of active nephritis or neurolupus. In case of antiphospholipid antibodies, patients were treated with aspirin or heparin if previous fetal losses were documented. In case of anti-SSA ab, patients were monitored with ultrasound and given dexamethasone in case of atrioventricular block. Fifty-nine pregnancies were registered among 31 women: mean age at diagnosis of SLE was 25.3 +/- 3.7 years (range: 17-31); mean disease duration before pregnancy 4.4 +/- 3 years (0-14); mean ACR score 5.4 +/- 1.5 (4-9). Seven patients had ACL ab, 8 had anti-SSA ab. Pregnancies ended in: 13 early spontaneous abortions (9 not related to disease flare up, 4 related to SAPL); 7 elective abortions (patient decision in 5 cases, severe lupus flare up in 2); one in utero death; 19 full term births (> 38 weeks); and 19 preterm births. Cesarean section was performed in 11 cases (6 for fetal distress, dystocia and previous ceasarian; 5 for active lupus). Severe sepsis occurred in one premature infant who died at the age of 1 week. Intrauterine growth retardation was observed in 11 cases, mean APGAR score was 8.9 +/- 1.43. Child development was normal in all cases except one child with mild mental retardation. Severe lupus flare ups occurred in 6 cases, of which 4 were pregnancies in unadvised situations. Six mild flare ups were documented in the post partum. One fatal case of neonatal lupus with AVB was observed. In conclusion, in our experience, the live birth rate is similar to the general population and the risk of lupus flare up is low when the above mentioned criteria are applied. Systematic increase of steroid dose at pregnancy onset does not seem to be necessary. The high rate of prematurity remains a problem to be solved.