Understanding lupus

Is it possible to prevent lupus from developing in my children if I have lupus?

Lupus is a complex disease that likely is caused by several interacting features. For example, we know that inherited genes, environmental exposures (such as certain medications, severe exposure to ultraviolet rays, perhaps certain viral exposures at key times), and female hormones are all likely contribute to the development of lupus. Genetic predisposition is only one factor.

The majority of cases of lupus that develop are sporadic -- that is, no known relative has the disease. When looking at identical twins, in only 50 percent of cases do both siblings develop lupus. Normally we tell young women with lupus that the risk of their child developing the disease is very small: 1 to 5 percent.  

Currently, no screening or genetic tests are available. We encourage family members to lead active, healthy lives. Sunscreen protection is always a good idea. If symptoms develop (joint swelling and pain, unexplained rashes, atypical chest pain), we encourage family members to seek evaluation from their regular doctors, and to be sure to mention the family history of lupus. 

Medically reviewed on July 18, 2013