-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that
pregnant women with the autoimmune disease lupus may have a twofold
increased risk of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition characterized
by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Preeclampsia can lead to serious health problems such as
seizure, stroke and organ failure and cause the death of the mother
The researchers also found that the use of disease-modifying
antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) during pregnancy was associated with a
statistically insignificant increased risk of preeclampsia. These
medications are used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases
such as rheumatoid arthritis, although their use during pregnancy
The slightly higher risk associated with antirheumatic drugs
could be explained by the severity of autoimmune disease among
users, according to the study, which was published in the November
issue of the journal
Arthritis Care & Research. This class of medications
includes methotrexate (brand names Rheumatrex and Trexall),
hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil, Quineprox), etanercept (Enbrel) and
Understanding how their use affects women with autoimmune
disease is important, especially during pregnancy, lead author
Kristin Palmsten, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a
journal news release.
Palmsten and her colleagues looked at data on nearly 307,000
pregnancies among almost 225,000 women in the province of British
"Our findings uphold previous evidence, showing that women with [lupus] had twice the risk of developing preeclampsia," she said. "The statistically non-significant increase in preeclampsia risk found for DMARDs was reduced when we more fully accounted for the potential effect of the autoimmune diseases, suggesting that the underlying disease or severity of the disease was likely contributing to the increased risk of preeclampsia among DMARD users."
Further research is needed to confirm the findings, and studies
should focus on use of DMARDs and preeclampsia in women with
specific autoimmune diseases, the researchers concluded.
The new study found a link between lupus and preeclampsia. It
did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The Preeclampsia Foundation has more about
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