The study will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting on Wednesday October 30, and may lead to added prenatal care for women suffering form the chronic condition.
The study looked at how certain lupus related antibodies and cytokines affected a developing foetus’ brain and compared it to thousands of controls. Dr Evelyne Vinet, lead researcher explained in a press release:
“A handful of small studies suggest an increased risk of learning disabilities in children born to women with lupus. However, no study has specifically assessed the risk of ASD in offspring of mothers with lupus. We undertook this study because women with lupus often ask: ‘Will my disease affect the future health of my children?’ By providing evidence to answer this relevant question, our study will help clinicians to appropriately counsel women with lupus who are planning a pregnancy.”
Vinet and her team compared 719 children born to 509 mothers with lupus, to 8,439 children born to 5,824 mothers without the disease. The team found that while children born to mothers without lupus had a 0.6 percent risk of being born with ASDs, those born to mothers with the disease had a 1.6 percent risk of receiving the diagnosis. They also found that these children were also diagnosed on average two years earlier than those born to mothers without Lupus.
“The findings from this study suggest that, although the absolute risk is relatively small, when compared to children from the general population, children born to women with lupus have a two-fold increased risk of autism spectrum disorders. Hopefully, this study will prompt further research on the potential role of lupus-related autoantibodies, such as N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibodies, in ASD.”