Women with SLE are more likely to experience maternal and fetal morbidity

According to US-based study findings published in the journal RMD Open Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Diseases, women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) had higher risks for maternal and fetal morbidity than those without chronic autoimmune conditions. 

Dr. Bella Mehta and co-researchers conducted the retrospective 10-year analysis to determine fetal and maternal morbidity indicators in SLE and non-SLE women deliveries. About 51,161 SLE patients were identified among the 40 million deliveries-associated admissions.  The experts reported that the individuals with SLE exhibited a greater risk of fetal morbidity than patients without SLE, including intrauterine growth restriction (8.0% vs 2.7%) and preterm delivery (14.5 vs 7.3%). Mothers with SLE were 15 times more likely to experience acute renal failure during labor than those without SLE and had a nearly four times increased likelihood of blood transfusion or developing a cerebrovascular disease. 

In 2008, Dr. Clowse and his team reported an increased risk of medical complications in women with SLE. The study analyzed 16.7 million admissions from 2000 to 2003 and found that among 13,555 women with SLE, there was a 20-fold higher maternal morbidity rate. Women with SLE had 3 to 7 times higher risks for thrombosis, infection, thrombocytopenia, and transfusion than other women. Additionally, lupus patients had a greater incidence of Caesarean sections (odds ratio 1.7), premature labor (odds ratio 2.4), and preeclampsia (odds ratio 3) compared to other women. SLE patients were also found to be more likely to suffer from additional illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and thrombophilia, which are associated with unfavorable pregnancy outcomes. 

The current study findings emphasize the importance of providing SLE patients and their doctors with information regarding the maternal and fetal hazards associated with the condition. By encouraging individual-level counseling, healthcare professionals can help enhance the outcomes of SLE patients and their offspring.


  1. Mehta B, Glaser KK, Jannat-Khah D, Luo Y, Sammaritano L, Salmon JE, Goodman S, Wang F. OP0124 Fetal and maternal morbidity in pregnant Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients: 10-year US National Study.
  2. Clowse ME, Jamison M, Myers E, James AH. A national study of the complications of lupus in pregnancy. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2008 Aug 1;199(2):127-e1.