Outcome of planned pregnancies in systemic lupus erythematosus: a prospective study on 62 pregnancies

Br J Rheumatol. 1997 Jul;36(7):772-7. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/36.7.772.


We conducted a prospective study in order to determine planned pregnancy outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus followed in a tertiary referral centre. Pregnancy was authorized if disease was inactive on 20 mg/day prednisone or less for at least 1 yr. Upon the diagnosis of pregnancy, systematic corticosteroids consisting of 10 mg/day prednisone or more were started. In the case of antiphospholipid antibodies, 100 mg/day aspirin was added, replaced by heparin in the pre-partum period. In the case of antiphospholipid syndrome complicated by previous thrombotic events or fetal losses despite aspirin, heparin was prescribed. One woman with a history of atrioventricular block was treated with dexamethasone. Patients were monitored by medical and obstetrical examination, and laboratory tests carried out at least monthly and a quarterly echography. Among 62 pregnancies in 38 women, lupus flare was observed in 27% of the cases, 6% of which occurred in the post-partum period. Flares were moderate except in one renal involvement in a woman with prior diffuse proliferative glomerulonephritis. Therapy was not modified in half of the cases. Pregnancy ended in early spontaneous abortion not related to lupus flare (n = 10), stillbirth (n = 2). induced abortion (n = 2), preterm birth (n = 29) and full-term birth (n = 19). Caesarean section was performed in nine cases. A severe infection occurred in two premature neonates. Another premature neonate was growth retarded. Two children had cutaneous neonatal lupus. No child died, neither had atrioventricular block. Stillbirth and severe prematurity were more common in mothers with antiphospholipid syndrome. After exclusion of early spontaneous and induced abortions, the live birth rate was 96%, that is close to the French general population. The main problem remains a high rate of prematurity, but without maternal or neonatal death.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Aging / immunology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / analysis
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / epidemiology
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / etiology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Aspirin
  • Prednisone