Background: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) has a tendency to occur in women in their reproductive years, causing complications during pregnancy and labour. Conversely, pregnancy can cause flares of disease activity, often necessitating immediate intervention.
Aim of study: to study pregnancy related complications in patients with SLE.
Patients and methods: The study included 48 SLE pregnant females. 27 patients with 38 pregnancies, their data viewed retrospectively from medical records, and 21 patients with 21 pregnancies followed up prospectively. The laboratory data included ANA, DNA, APL antibodies and anti Ro/SSA. The disease activity was calculated according to the Systemic Lupus Activity Measure. Ultrasound was performed to confirm gestational age and assess for the presence of any congenital fetal malformations, and then repeated monthly to detect any abnormality including intrauterine growth restriction. At 30 weeks gestation and onwards, assessment of fetal wellbeing including daily fetal kick chart and once weekly non stress test was performed. Doppler blood flow velocimetry was done for those with abnormal fetal heart rate pattern. After labour, the neonate was examined for complications including complete heart block and neonatal lupus.
Results: Anti dsDNA was found in 95% of the patients, anti Ro/SSA in 6% and anti APL in 30%. 57% of the patients followed up prospectively had active disease in the 1st trimester, 24% in the 2nd and 62% in the 3rd trimester. The most common maternal complication was preeclampsia 33%, followed by spontaneous abortion 20%. Prematurity was the most common fetal complication 37%, followed by intrauterine growth restriction 29%. 2 neonates were born with congenital heart block and 1 with neonatal lupus.
Conclusion: Pregnancy in SLE patients is associated with a higher risk of obstetric complications affecting both the mother and the fetus. Preeclampsia was the most common complication followed by prematurity. Preeclampsia was significantly associated with third trimester disease activity.
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