Study: No difference in children’s development when moms have lupus

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What is lupus?. The National Resource Center on Lupus defines the condition as "a chronic (long-term) disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body.". It is an autoimmune disease. The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Lupus most commonly affects the skin, joints and internal organs including the kidneys and the heart. While anyone can develop lupus, certain groups are at higher risk, including people who are African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander. . Statistics show 9 out of 10 people with lupus are women

Children born to women with lupus were shown to have unaffected cognitive development

Most expectant mothers have concerns about the health of their baby at one point or another, but mothers with lupus may be especially worried. However, a new study shows that no harm has been found when it comes to the cognitive development of children of women with lupus.

The research was announced in a Nov. 18 news release from the Lupus Foundation of America, two days after it was published.

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In a Danish population-based study, researchers compared test scores of children born to women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with those of children from the background population. Included were children born in Denmark between 1995 and 2008, all of whom were listed in the Danish National School Tests register. That amounted to 738,862 children, 312 of which were born to women with lupus.

Researchers assessed the school performance of children between 2nd and 8th grade in math and reading. Included in scaled analyses was information on the prescriptions mothers filled during their pregnancy, which included hydroxychloroquine and/or immunosuppressants. Both drugs are among the medications used to treat lupus.

”There were no differences in performance in neither reading nor mathematics tests between those born to mothers with SLE and children born to mothers without SLE,” scientists wrote in the results.

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Data on children of women with SLE who were exposed to hydroxychloroquine and/or immunosuppressants showed a “non-significant tendency towards poorer results” compared to children who were not exposed to the medications. Similarly, that same tendency had not been seen among children whose mothers were prescribed and took hydroxychloroquine for reasons unrelated to lupus.

“This study indicates no major harmful effect on the child’s neurocognitive development from exposure in utero to SLE, hydroxychloroquine and/or immunosuppressants, as measured by school performance,” researches wrote in the conclusion.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported most babies born to mothers with the inflammatory disease are healthy, there are rare instances where a baby can be born with neonatal lupus.

“Certain antibodies found in the mother can cause neonatal lupus,” the Atlanta-based agency said. “At birth, an infant with neonatal lupus may have a skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell levels.”

Although neonatal lupus can lead to the development of a serious heart defect, in most cases, the condition will go away after three to six months and won’t return.