Pregnancies Delay Onset Of Systemic Sclerosis

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (ARD Online)

04/04/2002
By Anne MacLennan

Prior pregnancies have a significant impact on the course and cause of death in systemic sclerosis.

Women who have never been pregnant develop the disease earlier, have more serious lung involvement and a higher related death rate than do those who get the disease after pregnancies. In fact, the more prior pregnancies, the higher the age of systemic sclerosis (SSC) onset, doctors at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have found.

Microchimerism from fetal or maternal cells transferred during pregnancy has been implicated in the pathogenesis of this disease. Thus, C M Artlett and colleagues investigated retrospectively a cohort of 111 women with SSc. Of these 111 patients, 78 had prior pregnancies (PP), and 33 had never been pregnant (NP).

The researchers statistically evaluated the differences between the two groups in age at onset, disease subset, organ involvement, cause of death and type of antinuclear autoantibodies.

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