|Preterm Delivery a Risk in Systemic Sclerosis|
|Thursday, 05 January 2012 07:38|
Many women with systemic sclerosis can have successful pregnancies, but the rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and intrauterine growth restriction are approximately twice as high in these women compared to the general population of pregnant women, based on data from 109 pregnancies in 99 women with systemic sclerosis. The findings were published in December's Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Data from previous studies have suggested negative outcomes for pregnancies in women with systemic sclerosis (SSc), but these have been small case series or large database reviews that did not allow for the identification of individual patients, said Dr. Mara Taraborelli of Spedali Civili and University, Brescia, Italy, and colleagues.
In this prospective study, the researchers followed 99 women with SSc who had 109 pregnancies between 2000 and 2011. The women attended one of 25 participating research centers in Italy.
The average age at conception was 32 years, and most of the women were white. A total of 107 pregnancies were spontaneous, and 2 were achieved with assisted reproductive techniques.
Preterm deliveries were significantly more common in the SSc women, compared to the general obstetric population that served as a control group (25% vs. 12%, respectively). Severe preterm delivery (defined as delivery at less than 34 weeks) also was significantly more common in SSc women, compared to the controls (10% vs. 5%, respectively).
In addition, very low birth weight babies and cases of intrauterine growth restriction were significantly more common in the SSc women, compared to the controls (5% vs. 1%, respectively, and 6% vs. 1%, respectively).
The researchers found no increase in hypertensive disorders of pregnancy or spontaneous pregnancy losses in SSc women, compared to the general pregnant population.
"We observed a low rate of disease progression shortly after the end of pregnancy; this risk might be greater in aSCL-70 positive patients with recent-onset disease," the researchers noted. All four cases of internal organ disease evolution within 12 months after delivery occurred in women who were aSCL-70 positive, and 3 of 23 (13%) of women who were aSCL-70 positive whose disease had lasted less than 3 years had some disease progression after delivery.
A total of six newborns spent a median of 15 days in the intensive care unit. Of these, one was severely premature and died of multi-organ failure.
The study findings were limited by the use of retrospective analysis and the use of controls for only one year, but the results suggest that successful pregnancies are possible for SSc women despite the increased risks for poor maternal and fetal outcomes, with multidisciplinary management, the researchers said. However, pregnancy may not be advisable for patients with severe organ damage or recent onset of SSc, especially those who are antitopoisomerase positive, they added.
Source: Splete, H. (2012), "Preterm Delivery a Risk in Systemic Sclerosis", Family Practice News;