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SMFM Consult Series #64: Systemic lupus erythematosus in pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) endorses this document.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, multisystem, inflammatory autoimmune disease characterized by relapses (commonly called “flares”) and remission. Many organs may be involved, and although the manifestations are highly variable, the kidneys, joints, and skin are commonly affected. Immunologic abnormalities, including the production of antinuclear antibodies, are also characteristic of the disease. Maternal morbidity and mortality are substantially increased in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, and an initial diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus during pregnancy is associated with increased morbidity. Common complications of systemic lupus erythematosus include nephritis, hematologic complications such as thrombocytopenia, and a variety of neurologic abnormalities. The purpose of this document is to examine potential pregnancy complications and to provide recommendations on treatment and management of systemic lupus erythematosus during pregnancy. The following are the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommendations: (1) we recommend low-dose aspirin beginning at 12 weeks of gestation until delivery in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus to decrease the occurrence of preeclampsia (GRADE 1B); (2) we recommend that all patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, other than those with quiescent disease, either continue or initiate hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in pregnancy (GRADE 1B); (3) we suggest that for all other patients with quiescent disease activity who are not taking HCQ or other medications, it is reasonable to engage in shared decision-making regarding whether to initiate new therapy with this medication in consultation with the patient’s rheumatologist (GRADE 2B); (4) we recommend that prolonged use (>48 hours) of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) generally be avoided during pregnancy (GRADE 1A); (5) we recommend that COX-2 inhibitors and full-dose aspirin be avoided during pregnancy (GRADE 1B); (6) we recommend discontinuing methotrexate 1-3 months and mycophenolate mofetil/mycophenolic acid at least 6 weeks before attempting pregnancy (GRADE 1A); (7) we suggest the decision to initiate, continue, or discontinue biologics in pregnancy be made in collaboration with a rheumatologist and be individualized to the patient (GRADE 2C); (8) we suggest treatment with a combination of prophylactic unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin and low-dose aspirin for patients without a previous thrombotic event who meet obstetrical criteria for antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) (GRADE 2B); (9) we recommend therapeutic unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin for patients with a history of thrombosis and antiphospholipid (aPL) antibodies (GRADE 1B); (10) we suggest treatment with low-dose aspirin alone in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid antibodies without clinical events meeting criteria for antiphospholipid syndrome (GRADE 2C); (11) we recommend that steroids not be routinely used for the treatment of fetal heart block due to anti-Sjögren’s-syndrome-related antigen A or B (anti-SSA/SSB) antibodies given their unproven benefit and the known risks for both the pregnant patient and fetus (GRADE 1C); (12) we recommend that serial fetal echocardiograms for assessment of the PR interval not be routinely performed in patients with anti-SSA/SSB antibodies outside of a clinical trial setting (GRADE 1B); (13) we recommend that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus undergo prepregnancy counseling with both maternal–fetal medicine and rheumatology specialists that includes a discussion regarding maternal and fetal risks (GRADE 1C); (14) we recommend that pregnancy be generally discouraged in patients with severe maternal risk, including patients with active nephritis; severe pulmonary, cardiac, renal, or neurologic disease; recent stroke; or pulmonary hypertension (GRADE 1C); (15) we recommend antenatal testing and serial growth scans in pregnant patients with systemic lupus erythematosus because of the increased risk of fetal growth restriction (FGR) and stillbirth (GRADE 1B); and (16) we recommend adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (GRADE 1B).