Objective: Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) may influence pregnancy outcome and pregnancy may affect AIH. We aimed at analyzing the disease course in pregnant AIH patients and at identifying disease-related risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcome.
Patients and methods: AIH patients with at least one pregnancy were identified at four liver units. The patients' records and the data obtained by detailed questionnaires were analyzed retrospectively. Forty-two pregnancies of 22 AIH patients were included.
Results: The rate of adverse pregnancy outcome was 26%; a medical explanation could be elucidated in only 4 of 11 pregnancies with adverse outcome. Of note, the 7 unexplained adverse pregnancy outcomes were highly associated with the presence of antibodies to SLA/LP (odds ratio 51; p < 0.003) and Ro/SSA (odds ratio 27; p < 0.02). Of 35 live births, 30 children developed normally over a mean observation period of nearly 5 yr. Eleven of these had been exposed to azathioprine in utero. The rate of serious maternal complications was 9% and a high rate (52%) of postpartum flares was noted.
Conclusions: The presence of autoantibodies may be a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcome in AIH patients. Close monitoring of both mother and fetus seems advisable due to a significant rate of maternal and fetal complications.