It’s estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from lupus, an autoimmune disease that can impact the joints and organs. Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age, putting them at a higher risk of miscarriage and premature delivery. Now, one doctor says patients can have a healthy pregnancy.
Sometimes Emily Greenwell can’t believe she gave birth to this beautiful baby boy named Finley.
Greenwell said, “Nine pounds, and he was 22 and a quarter inches long.”
Greenwell has lupus: a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage the skin, joints and organs. It can also cause inflammation.
“We’ll see kidney inflammation which can cause kidney failure in some situations,” said Megan Clowse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology & Immunology at Duke University.
That’s why Dr. Clowse says for years women with lupus were warned not to get pregnant because they would have to stop the medications that controlled the disease.
“I think now we have come to sort of a new approach to lupus pregnancy management.” Dr. Clowse said.
Dr. Clowse says keeping lupus well controlled during pregnancy is key.
“My approach here at Duke, I continue almost everybody on hydroxychloroquine,” Dr. Clowse said.
Also known as plaquenil , Dr. Clowse says the drug has been shown to be safe during pregnancy.
“I have managed about 150 lupus pregnancies over the past decade. We have probably about 30 percent of our pregnancies deliver early,” Dr. Clowse shared.
She says those pre-term births tended to occur in women who got pregnant while their lupus was active.
“So in my experience, plan the lupus pregnancies,” Dr. Clowse advised.
Greenwell was carefully monitored by her doctor the entire time. Now the proud parents of a healthy baby boy, Emily and her husband Moxie say despite the lack of sleep, it’s all worth it!
“Every day is a different day and it’s been amazing,” Greenwell stated.
Greenwell says she never had a flare-up during her pregnancy and felt great! Dr. Clowse says if you have lupus and get pregnant unexpectedly call your doctor’s office right away and tell them the medications you are taking because some may cause birth defects and should be stopped immediately. For more information please visit https://resources.lupus.org/entry/planning-a-pregnancy and http://lupuspregnancy.org/
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.