As with other arthritis-related conditions, Sjögren’s syndrome occasionally presents its own set of problems during pregnancy. Experts advise that women with Sjögren’s syndrome who are planning to get pregnant as well as those who have suffered miscarriages be tested for antibodies including antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies and anti-SS-A.
In rare cases, antiphospholipid antibodies, lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibodies have been associated with recurrent miscarriages; anti-SS-A has been associated with congenital heart block, an abnormality of the rate or rhythm of the fetal or infant heart. If you have a positive anti-SS-A, your doctor may want to monitor your baby by fetal echocardiogram, a procedure that uses ultrasound waves to view the action of the heart as it beats. If heart block is detected, your doctor will probably prescribe a corticosteroid medication that crosses the placenta to help minimize the inflammation. Your doctor will continue to treat and monitor you throughout your pregnancy, because heart block may necessitate early delivery of the baby. But Robert I. Fox, MD, a rheumatologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA, stresses that is rare. “It is important to reassure patients that the vast majority of women with Sjögren’s syndrome have babies with no congenital abnormalities,” he says.
As with other forms of arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome is likely to flare after delivery. Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid at the time of delivery and in the weeks after to control flares.