Do you Get Lupus Symptoms During Birth?

If you already have the lupus disease, the extra stress and increased production of hormones during pregnancy can cause lupus symptoms to flare, possibly causing complications while giving birth.

Risks to the Baby

The risks to the child caused by a mother’s lupus disease are minimal. Chances of passing lupus to a child by genetics is less than 5%, according to a Stanford University study. There is also no greater chance for birth defects than any other birth. However, 3% of children whose mothers have lupus will have neonatal lupus. Neonatal lupus is temporary and usually goes away within 3-6 months after birth/onset. The main symptoms of neonatal lupus are abnormal blood counts and a rash. Of the 3% of neonatal babies, half may suffer from what is called heart block, a condition which can be treated with a pacemaker.

Premature Birth

The 7th International Congress on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Related Conditions concluded that any moderate to severe lupus activity during any trimester of a pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth. In a study consisting of 202 women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 266 pregancies were observed between 1986 and 2002. The study showed that of these, 86% had a live birth, 52% were full-term and 23% of the infants were born too small for their age. Because lupus affects the immune system of the mother, there is a greater chance of miscarriage and stillbirth, about 10%. There is a 30% risk that the child will be born premature, but the pregnancy and birth will be fine.

The study also showed that there were more full-term births with women who had low lupus activity during pregnancy than those with high lupus activity. Researches concluded that, “Moderate to severe lupus activity during any trimester of pregnancy leads to an increase in premature births and a decrease in live births—with almost one quarter resulting in fetal loss.”


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