Pregnancy is a time when a woman faces a lot of physical and hormonal changes in her body. The possibility of contracting autoimmune disorders in pregnancy is another cause for concern, so it is essential to learn and educate oneself about the various possibilities of occuring autoimmune disorders in pregnancy. In this blog, we are going to discuss the different types of autoimmune disorders that can complicate pregnancy and how we can treat them.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
Lupus is one of the most common autoimmune disorders that affects the female population in the world, and it doesn’t affect men in large numbers. In this disorder, the immune system attacks tissues of the body by mistaking them for carriers of foreign particles. Lupus symptoms will vary depending on which organ is affected. Severe fatigue, joint swelling, headaches, rashes, and hair loss are all common symptoms. But these symptoms are usually seen as common and associated with pregnancy.
Most pregnant women contract this disorder for the first time when they are pregnant, and if they already have lupus, pregnancy kind of aggravates the already existing disorder.
Women who have lupus are more susceptible to miscarriages, stillbirths, restrictions on the normal growth and development of the foetus, etc. This specific autoimmune disorder frequently experiences flare-ups right after delivery. Before attempting conception, take the following into account if the woman has already received a lupus diagnosis:
- To make sure that the autoimmune disorder is inactive for 6 months.
- The disorder should be under control with the help of medications.
- Blood pressure and kidney function are within normal ranges.
This disorder is also known to cause complications for the foetus. Even during pregnancy, patients with this autoimmune disorder are usually prescribed regular medications. Consulting the gynaecologist concerning the dosage and method of intake is the best way to treat the disorder and ensure a problem-free delivery.
The immune system produces antibodies in this type of autoimmune disorder, resulting in the blocking or destruction of receptor cells in the muscles. The communication between the nervous system and muscles gets affected. As a result, the body is weakened and suffers from severe fatigue. The symptoms that follow this disorder are weakness of the muscles of the body, drooping of the eyelids, respiratory illness, the inability to speak or chew, and so on. The disorder gets aggressive within a short span of time.
The disorder typically affects women under the age of 40, and if contracted during pregnancy, it can lead to respiratory failure. It can also harm the foetus by limiting its growth and causing prematurity; it can also result in the death of both the mother and the child.
Any pain or previous medications should be reported to the doctor, as some prenatal care medications can aggravate this autoimmune condition.
3. Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP)
In ITP, the immune system attacks the platelets in the body. Platelets are the cells in blood that help form clots, and when there is a deficiency in the number of platelets, it can cause excessive bleeding in times of injury, whether external or internal. The condition tends to aggravate while pregnant and can result in maternal morbidity. During pregnancy, when these platelets are low in number, it causes excessive bleeding, which is dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
It is a concerning situation, and the practitioner usually administers a large dose of immune globulin via IV. This can help with controlling the bleeding. In such a situation, when the mother is subject to such a condition, the doctor will recommend regular checkups and keep track of the platelet count in the mother’s body.
4. Antiphospholipid Syndrome
This autoimmune disorder causes excessive clotting of the blood. Pregnant women who have antiphospholipid syndrome are usually treated with medications like aspirin and anticoagulants. These medications are administered in small doses for up to six weeks of pregnancy. It supposedly lowers the risk of excessive clotting and lowers the risk of complications.
Antiphospholipid syndrome increases the chances of the following:
- Hypertension during pregnancy
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Foetal demise
5. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pregnancy
Rheumatoid arthritis is a common occurrence in pregnant women as their due date approaches. It causes immense pain, stiffness, and weakness for the mother. It doesn’t affect the foetus in any way. If the rheumatoid factor adversely affects the spine or hip joints, then it can unfavourably contribute to complicating the delivery process. If the mother already has rheumatoid arthritis, then it becomes less severe during pregnancy and comes back to severity after delivery.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which normally fights infections, turns against the body. This results in thickening and tightening of the skin and blood vessels and leaves scars on the kidneys and other organs. If the condition is localised, then it will affect the skin. But if it’s systemic, then it starts affecting the organs. It can also be harmful to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, as well as cause hypertension. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to systemic scleroderma, which can cause high blood pressure, protein leakage in the kidneys, and other kidney-related issues.
Autoimmune Disorder Medications and Pregnancy
If the pregnant woman already has a previous medical history of an autoimmune disorder and is taking medicines for the same, then it is ideal to continue those medicines. Discontinuing the medicine can cause adverse effects and even result in the aggravation of the diseases.
Make sure to discuss it with your doctor and follow the instructions they provide. The doctors usually suggest lowering the doses or replacing the medicines with safer ones that will have generally no effect on the growing foetus.
KJK Hospital has been the best maternity hospital in Kerala and has provided reproductive services to its patients since its inception 21 years ago.
We have been successful in our efforts to help women embrace motherhood as well as treat various pregnancy-related conditions. It is the trust we have in our specialists, doctors, and nurses that has helped us cover so much ground and achieve so many milestones since our inception. The fertility treatments that we provide, such as IVF treatment, IUI treatment, etc., are definite ways to help couples realise their dreams of becoming parents. Contact us if you are looking for a fruitful pregnancy journey.
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