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Lupus is a disease that can affect different parts of the body, such as the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. Lupus is an auto-immune disease. It is caused by a problem with the body’s immune system. The immune system normally makes “antibodies” that protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other invaders (antigens). In an auto-immune disorder, the immune system attacks the body’s own cells as if they were invaders. This can cause inflammation, injury to tissue, and pain.
People with lupus often have “flares,” when the symptoms are bad. In between the flares, the symptoms are not so bad. This is called “remission” (ree-MISS-shun).
All lupus pregnancies are high-risk. It is very important for you to see your doctors often to help keep you and your baby healthy. Many problems can be prevented. Any problems that are found can be more easily treated if they are found early.
With lupus, you may be at risk for some of the following problems:
It is very important to keep scheduled appointments with your obstetrician and rheumatologist.
Lupus rarely occurs in children whose mother had lupus. About 60 to 70 percent of people with lupus have an antibody known as Anti-Ro or anti-SSA antibody. Of these women, about 90 percent will have a normal baby. About 5 percent will have a baby with neonatal lupus. This may cause:
For babies with neonatal lupus and no heart problem, there is no trace of the disease by 3 to 6 months of age. The heartbeat problem is rare and can be treated. Even though it is permanent, babies with the heartbeat abnormality grow normally.
You can breastfeed your baby if you have lupus. Be sure to check with your doctors about any medicine you may be taking, because some medicines are passed through the breast milk.
Some premature babies are not strong enough to suckle. If you wish, you can express your milk to feed your baby until your baby is strong enough to nurse.