Purpose: Prevention and treatment of pregnancy loss associated with the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) are controversial. Successful pregnancies have been reported with prednisone and low-dose aspirin in patients with lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL), but failure has also been reported. The purpose of this prospective study was to define the efficacy of such combination therapy in the prevention of pregnancy loss related to aCL.
Patients and methods: Consecutive pregnant patients with a minimum of one pregnancy loss and at least two positive aCL determinations more than 3 months apart, and in whom other causes of pregnancy loss were ruled out, were included in the study. aCL concentrations were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay before and during therapy. Patients received prednisone, at a dosage of 40 mg/d, for 4 weeks. The dose was then tapered down 10 mg every 4 weeks, and then to a maintenance dose of 5 mg/d. They also received aspirin, 81 mg/d, throughout the pregnancy. Babies were evaluated during the pregnancy by measurement of fetal heart rate and ultrasonography, and after the delivery by measurement of weight and Apgar scores, and, in some cases, by arterial gasometry.
Results: Eleven patients with a mean (+/- SD) age of 33.2 +/- 5.01 years were included. Prior to therapy, the rate of live-born babies was 15.6% (32 previous fetal losses and 5 live-born babies), and, after therapy, it was 100% (12 pregnancies and 12 live-born babies). There were no significant adverse effects to either mothers or babies. All the patients had positive aCL determinations. Nine patients had positive IgG aCL. The levels of the antibodies decreased during treatment in these nine patients. IgM aCL determinations were positive in nine patients. The levels of this isotype decreased in eight patients (90%) during treatment.
Conclusions: Treatment with prednisone and aspirin appears to be efficacious, safe, and economic in the prevention of pregnancy loss and fetal growth retardation in patients with aCL.