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The effect of lupus nephritis on pregnancy outcome and fetal and maternal complications.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of lupus nephritis on pregnancy with respect to fetal outcome, maternal complications, and lupus activity.

METHODS: All pregnancies seen between 1970 and 2003 in the Lupus Clinic were evaluated for the 3 outcomes. Renal disease was defined as the presence of nephrotic syndrome, dialysis, renal transplant, serum creatinine > 120 mmol/l, proteinuria, sterile hematuria and pyuria, or the presence of casts. Fetal complications were evaluated in pregnancies resulting in either live births or stillbirths. Generalized estimating equations were used to test for differences in outcomes between pregnancies with and without the presence of active renal disease. Repeated measures adjustments were made in the model for multiple pregnancies in the same mother.

RESULTS: There were 193 pregnancies in 104 women. Of these, 81 occurred in the presence of active renal disease during the study period, defined as 6 months prior to conception until the date of pregnancy outcome. One hundred twelve pregnancies were defined as nonrenal. No statistical difference was found in pregnancy outcome. Fetal complications were not different between the 2 groups with the exception of low birth weight and congenital malformations, which were observed more frequently in the renal group. Pregnancy-induced hypertension was more frequent in pregnancies with renal disease. Lupus flares were also more likely to occur in pregnancies with renal disease compared to those without.

CONCLUSION: Lupus nephritis in pregnancy does not lead to worsened pregnancy or fetal outcomes. Active renal disease, however, is associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as a flare of lupus activity during pregnancy.

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