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Lupus and Pregnancy

Having lupus doesn’t mean you can’t have a baby. In fact, many women with this disease give birth to healthy children. The key to a successful pregnancy is knowing how lupus affects the body and keeping the disease under control.  

Pregnancy and lupus

Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease. Such diseases cause the immune system to attack the body. Lupus can result in widespread damage to your joints, tendons, and organs. It most often affects the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.

Symptoms of lupus may be mild to severe. They also often come and go. These flares can cause fever, rashes, inflammation of the joints, hair loss, and mouth ulcers. The disease can also lead to more serious symptoms. These include kidney disease, nerve problems, and weight loss.

Pregnancy may or may not increase the symptoms of, or change the course of, lupus. Flares may occur at any time in pregnancy or after you have the baby. But they are usually mild. During a flare, your body is more vulnerable to damage from the disease. Plus lupus can make other health problems more likely to happen during pregnancy.

Complications from lupus

Lupus can affect pregnancy at any stage. But flares most often occur in the first trimester. Pregnant women with lupus, especially those having a flare, are at higher risk for complications. These include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm delivery, especially with a lupus flare
  • Early breaking of the amniotic sac (premature rupture of membranes)
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
  • Poor growth of the fetus (intrauterine growth restriction)
  • Stillbirth
  • Infection
  • Low platelets
  • Transfusion
  • Blood clot formation
  • Unplanned cesarean section

For more information on this topic, visit our Health Library.

For more information on SBL Women's Health, or to schedule an appointment, call 217-258-4030.