Research reveals potential care gap for pregnant women with lupus


A new study by Arthritis Research Canada has found that almost 30 per cent of pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus discontinue their antimalarials (especially in the first trimester) despite these medications being safe and recommended during pregnancy.

Women with lupus have a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy-related complications like miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, eclampsia, preterm labour and fetal growth restriction. As a result, the findings of this research are concerning.

“In order to reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy, fetal and neonatal outcomes, it is important that pregnant women continue managing their disease,” said Dr. Mary De Vera, a Research Scientist of Pharmacoepidemiology at Arthritis Research Canada and lead researcher on the study.  

The findings of this research point to the importance of educating women with lupus who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, about the benefits and risks of medications during pregnancy.  

“Considering that antimalarials are considered safe and recommended for managing disease activity during pregnancy, the relatively high discontinuation rates prior to and during pregnancy are alarming,” Dr. De Vera said. “They may indicate a care gap that needs to be addressed by health care providers and an information gap for women with lupus.”  

Few prior studies have examined medication use in pregnant women with lupus and showed varying frequencies of use prior to conception, during pregnancy, and post-partum.  

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation in one or more parts of the body and systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form. It is estimated that 1:1,000 Canadian men, women and children are affected by the disease. And between the ages of 15 and 45, women are eight times more likely than men to be diagnosed with lupus.  



Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research centre in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Led by world-renowned rheumatologist, Dr. John Esdaile, Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific team of over 100 are creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Within British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, and quality of life issues.  


To obtain a full copy of the paper, please contact:  

Dr. Mary De Vera

Research Scientist of Pharmacoepidemiology, MSc, PhD



For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:    

Heather Caulder

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Arthritis Research Canada

604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca

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