Saturday, December 29, 2012

Autoimmune Disease and Pregnancy

Image found on Wikipedia. 

One of the common misconceptions floating around out in the medical world is that patients dealing with autoimmune disease are exclusively female and post-menopausal. As many of my readers would be quick to point out; this is not true. With earlier detection and increased awareness, more younger men and women are being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, among other autoimmune diseases.

I read a recent article in Medscape News authored by Oier Ateka-Barrutia and Catherine Nelson-Piercy, published in
Int J Clin Rheumatol. 2012;7(5):541-558 and entitled Management of Rheumatologic Diseases in Pregnancy with interest, glad that one autoimmune problem of young sjoggies was given much needed focus:
Rheumatic diseases include a variety of chronic multisystem disorders with a high percentage of autoimmune conditions. Many of these diseases affect women of child-bearing age, and so pregnancy poses an important challenge for doctors looking after these women. Knowledge about medication safety, the effect of pregnancy on such diseases, and vice versa, together with preconception counseling and multidisciplinary team care, are basic pillars needed to provide the best obstetric and medical care to these women.
Each autoimmune disease presents it's own set of challenges during pregnancy, but in Sjogren's syndrome, a very small percentage of sjoggie mothers and infants have particular issues; read this found on Arthritis Today:

As with other arthritis-related conditions, Sjögren’s syndrome occasionally presents it own set of problems during pregnancy. Experts advise that women with Sjögren’s syndrome who are planning to get pregnant as well as those who have suffered miscarriages be tested for antibodies including antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies and anti-SS-A.     In rare cases, antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibodies have been associated with recurrent miscarriages; anti-SS-A has been associated with congenital heart block, an abnormality of the rate or rhythm of the fetal or infant heart..........Robert I. Fox, MD, a rheumatologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., stresses that is rare. “It is important to reassure patients that the vast majority of women with Sjögren’s syndrome have babies with no congenital abnormalities,” he says. (Bolding mine).
Talk to your rheumatologist about this important issue if you are of childbearing age.

1 comment:

Geniene P. said...

I would like to re-affirm that just because one has a positive ANA or thought to have immune system problems, it doesn't mean their pregnancy will be affected. I had been diagnosed with Lupus when I was 26 but never had a major systemic flare. At 40, I became pregnant. I was living in NYC & went to a top researcher of pregnancy w/ Lupus. My tests came back normal (even my ANA was normal) & I had a great pregnancy. 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with SS. I was having many typical SS issues. Who knows if I had SS when I was pregnant? Net, net, confer with one's doctor before or during pregnancy but don't let SS keep you from enjoying motherhood. That is what teenagers are for! ;)