(HealthDay News) — When systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is under control, women who conceive usually have healthy pregnancies and infants, according to research published online June 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new study, conducted at eight medical centers in the United States and one in Canada, is the largest one yet to follow pregnancy outcomes for women with SLE. Of 385 pregnant women with SLE, the researchers found that 81 percent gave birth to a full-term, normal-weight infant.

The other 19% of the women had an adverse outcome, such as stillbirth, preterm delivery, or an underweight infant. But the risk varied depending on several factors. The strongest risk factors were using antihypertensives and the presence of lupus anticoagulant. Those women were seven to eight times more likely to have a pregnancy complication, vs. other women. In addition, while most women did not have SLE flare-ups during pregnancy, those who did faced a higher complication risk. When it came to race, black and Hispanic women had higher risks: 27 and 21%, respectively, had some type of pregnancy complication.

Bevra Hahn, MD, who wrote an editorial published with the study, told HealthDay that she suspects genetic influences play a role in the racial difference – though environment, like diet or exposure to pollution, could also be at work. Hahn is a rheumatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)