Irreversible Organ Damage Accrual Linked to Pregnancy Health Risks in Women with Lupus
A new study finds pregnant women with lupus who have irreversible organ damage may be at higher risk for poor pregnancy outcomes, regardless of their lupus disease activity. Damage accrual was measured by the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC)/American College of Rheumatology damage index, known as the SDI, a validated tool to estimate organ damage in people with lupus.
Researchers looked at data from 260 women with lupus during their first pregnancy after lupus diagnosis and found one in four women had an SDI score of one or more at the beginning of their prenatal care. An SDI score of one or more indicates irreversible organ damage. These women were more likely to experience health complications during their pregnancy, particularly lupus disease activity during pregnancy and shortly after childbirth, active lupus nephritis (lupus-related kidney disease) and hospitalizations.
Women with SDI scores indicating damage accrual were also more likely to experience fetal and neonatal complications, even in the absence of lupus disease activity, including:
- Preterm births
- Infants small for their gestational age
- Neonatal intensive care unit stays
The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is currently working with the SLICC group, an international network of rheumatologists and immunologists dedicated to clinical research on lupus and LFA partner, to assess and strengthen the SDI.
Starting a family is possible for women with lupus, and getting the disease under control well before pregnancy is key to minimize disease activity and organ damage accrual. Learn more about lupus and pregnancy.