Pregnancy outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): a review of 54 cases

K R Johns, E F Morand, G O Littlejohn
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine 1998, 28 (1): 18-22

AIM: To compare the pregnancy outcome, in particular gestational age and birth weight in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) diagnosed before and after pregnancy, and to review data on presence or absence of the antiphospholipid (aPL) antibody and flares of disease activity.

METHOD: Case histories were reviewed of women with a diagnosis of SLE and an obstetric event attending Monash Medical Centre (MMC) over an eight year period (1988-96). Fifty-four pregnancies in 28 women were studied, with 44 occurring after the diagnosis of SLE (Group 1) and ten prior to the diagnosis of SLE (Group 2).

RESULTS: In Group 1 there were 25 live births (63%) with 16 full term and nine premature deliveries, 12 spontaneous abortions, three foetal deaths in utero and four elective terminations. In Group 2 there were seven live births (70%), two spontaneous abortions and one foetal death in utero. The mean gestational age of live births was 35.8 weeks and 39.2 weeks respectively (p < 0.001). The mean birth weight of live births was 2448 g and 3030 g respectively (p < 0.023). a PL antibodies were positive in eight of 26 women tested with three live births and were negative in 18 of 26 women with 12 live births. Flares of disease activity occurred in 17 of 28 pregnancies.

CONCLUSION: Pregnancy in women with a predisposition to SLE have a high risk of an adverse outcome. Clinical disease confers an additional risk. The mean gestational age and birth weight were significantly less in women with established disease. Mild flares in disease activity resulted in a favourable outcome while renal flares had a worse outcome.

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