Objective: The risk for congenital heart block (CHB) associated with maternal Ro/SSA autoantibodies is low, but the possibility of treating early stages of disease has seen the introduction of Doppler echocardiographic surveillance programs with serial examinations during the CHB susceptibility weeks of pregnancy. The aim of the present study was to understand how Ro/SSA autoantibody-positive women having undergone Doppler echocardiographic surveillance programs and giving birth to children without CHB experienced their pregnancy and frequent ultrasound examinations.
Methods: A validated questionnaire based on data from an interview-study was distributed to Ro/SSA-positive women supervised with Doppler examinations during their pregnancy (n = 100).
Results: The response rate was 79%. The majority of the women (61%) reported that the increased number of ultrasound examinations influenced their pregnancy, but in a positive way, with qualified information and additional support from health care personnel in conjunction with the examinations. Further, the visits to the clinic provided opportunities to see the ultrasound picture of the expected infant. However, one-third of the women also reported stress in relation to the examinations.
Conclusions: Fetal echocardiographic surveillance holds many and predominantly positive effects for Ro/SSA-positive women during pregnancy in addition to the medical advantages.
Keywords: Congenital heart block; Doppler echocardiography; Ro/SSA autoantibodies; Sjögren’s syndrome; pregnancy; systemic lupus erythematosus.
© The Author(s) 2015.