This last summer, a friend of mine had her first child. She was a high-risk patient because she has lupus. At first, she was concerned about getting pregnant, but she and her husband decided to try anyway. Though her pregnancy went well, often women with lupus can experience a lot of pregnancy complications. Recently, however, researchers found that a new combo of drugs can help lupus patients avoid many common pregnancy complications.

Are Anti-Malaria Drugs the Answer?
Yale School of Medicine researchers found that anti-malaria drugs may help prevent pregnancy complications for women with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome. Normally, the body circulates antibodies called antiphospholipid, which are produced to recognize and attack various types of bacteria and other microbes. With lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome, however, the antibodies attack the body’s own proteins. When this happens, women with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome can be at risk of pregnancy loss and late gestation complications like preeclampsia.

Many drugs that help treat lupus aren’t safe to take during pregnancy, but it’s been discovered that anti-malaria drugs like hydroxychloroquine can help reverse some of the symptoms of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome. It can also safely be taken through pregnancy.

Senior author Vikki M. Abrahams, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale says that "We found that hydroxychloroquine partially reversed some, but not all, of the detrimental effects of antiphospholipid antibodies on human placental cell function. So perhaps some form of combination therapy that includes hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial to pregnant patients with lupus and/or antiphospholipid syndrome."

Staying Pregnant is the Key
Though women with lupus face many difficulties during pregnancy, most women give birth successfully to healthy children. The main obstacle that women with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome face is staying pregnant. The new study used a lab-based system to measure the detrimental effects of antiphospholipid antibodies on human placental trophoblast cell function. Hopefully, with the right combination of anti-malaria drugs, women with be conditions will be able to conceive and stay pregnant.

In the past, many doctors recommended that women with lupus should not try to get pregnant. However, with new advances in medicine, including the new anti-malaria treatments, women with lupus can usually expect to have a fairly normal delivery and pregnancy. This is especially true when a women’s lupus has stabilized, which means there have been no recent flare-ups of the common lupus symptoms.

Yale University (2014, January 22). Malaria drug combo could help prevent pregnancy complications in lupus patients. ScienceDaily.