Conference Coverage

Pregnancy can be safe with interstitial lung disease


Pregnant women with interstitial lung disease (ILD) related to autoimmune disease may not need to terminate their pregnancies if they have close monitoring before, during, and after pregnancy with a multidisciplinary team of physicians, new research suggests.

Senior author Megan Clowse, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at Duke University, Durham, N.C., explained during a press conference at the virtual annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology that women with ILD are often advised by obstetricians or rheumatologists to avoid conception or terminate their pregnancies, though evidence for that has been based on small studies of 9-15 patients that have had mixed results.

“Many of these pregnancies were delivered 20-30 years ago, definitely with different rheumatic and obstetric care than we can provide now,” she said. “It’s really time to rethink our approach to interstitial lung disease and pregnancy.”

This study showed that while adverse pregnancy outcomes are common in these women, overall maternal morbidity and mortality are low.

ILD may be a secondary disease in people who have scleroderma, lupus, and sarcoidosis.

Largest study to date

This Pfizer-sponsored retrospective study of 67 pregnant women is the largest to date, and it analyzed 94 pregnancies (including five sets of twins).

Sarah Rae Easter, MD, maternal-fetal medicine doctor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, called the work “exciting” as the researchers were able to look back at a large number of cases for a rare condition for more than 20 years.

“Their data provides much-needed evidence to provide some reassurance for women affected by this type of pulmonary disease regarding the relative safety of pregnancy,” she said in an interview.

Study spanned 23 years

The researchers reviewed pregnancy records in patients diagnosed with ILD secondary to autoimmune disease at Duke University Health System from January 1996 to July 2019.

They classified the severity of ILD based on two standard breathing tests – forced vital capacity and diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide.

Overall, 69% of the women were diagnosed with sarcoidosis and the remaining 31% had a connective tissue disease associated with ILD (CTD-ILD). Of those measured for ILD severity, 11% were severe, 25% were moderate, 50% were mild, and 14% were normal. Their average maternal age was 32.1 and 83% were Black.

While 70% of the pregnancies resulted in live births, 9% were terminated. The remainder resulted in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Researchers reported a 15% rate of preeclampsia, a 34% rate of the composite measure PROMISSE-Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (APO), and a 15% rate of PROMISSE-APO SEVERE. Patients with severe disease had the highest rates of PROMISSE-APO (P = .03 across groups).

(PROMISSE stands for the Predictors of Pregnancy Outcome: Biomarkers in Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus study.)


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