Lisa Sammaritano, MD: Rheumatic Diseases in Pregnant Patients

September 11, 2020

An expert discusses the risks that rheumatic diseases pose for pregnancies as well as the conversations rheumatologists need to have with their patients.

Patients with rheumatic diseases are likelier to have complications during pregnancies than the general population. Rheumatologists, therefore, must be aware of the risks these diseases pose for this specific patient population.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Lisa Sammaritano, MD, Rheumatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and Hospital for Special Surgery, discussed how rheumatology disorders may influence patients and physician decisions before, during, and after pregnancies.

Rheumatologists have a critical responsibility to evaluate these diseases and determine the best treatment or monitoring approach for such patients. Some courses of action may be encouraging the use of contraception, especially for individuals not planning for a pregnancy, or delaying pregnancy until any active diseases have been treated or managed. 

“It’s almost a universal finding in this area that having any active rheumatic disease prior to or at the moment of conception does increase risk, both maternal and pregnancy related.” Sammaritano said.

Another important consideration is the medication that is prescribed to treat the rheumatic disease. While some medicines are considered safe during pregnancies, other common therapies are potentially teratogenic.

It is thus important for the patient to be aware of their medication use before and during pregnancies, and healthcare providers must halt any potentially concerning treatments in a timely manner.