Study Shows Increased Risk of Autism in Mothers with Lupus

Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Diego, researchers discussed their findings that suggest children born to mothers with lupus may have a higher risk for an autism diagnosis than to a mother without the disease. Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic inflammatory disease, affecting many areas of the body with symptoms such as fever, rashes, and arthritis.


The study used the Offspring of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus mother’s registry (OSLER) to compare 719 children born to 509 mothers who have lupus to 8,493 children born to 5,824 without lupus. Each mother with lupus was matched to four mothers without the disease, and the results showed that the children born to mothers with lupus had a 1.4% diagnosis of autism, where the control group only had 0.6%. The former group of children was also diagnosed on an average earlier age.


Women with lupus consult their doctors while considering pregnancy, for risk factors due to the disease. This study sheds light on how physicians counsel their patients with lupus during this process.


Lead researcher Evelyne Vinet, MD, FRCPC, assistant professor in the Department of Rheumatology at McGill University Health Centre comments that further studies will focus,


“On the potential role of lupus-related autoantibodies…in ASD. In the meantime, women with lupus who are contemplating a pregnancy should discuss with their physician to ideally plan the pregnancy at a time of low disease activity and review the safety of their medications.”[1]

[1] “Science Daily” Children whose mothers have lupus might be at increased risk of autism spectrum disorders. 27 Oct 2013. Web. <>

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