How Antiphospholipid Syndrome Affects Pregnancy, Expert Explains

Antiphospholipid syndrome can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage and stillbirth.

Sambhav Kumar
Written by: Sambhav KumarUpdated at: Feb 13, 2023 12:06 IST
How Antiphospholipid Syndrome Affects Pregnancy, Expert Explains

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Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system produces antibodies that attack phospholipids, a type of fat found in cell membranes. These antibodies can cause blood clots in the veins and arteries, leading to various related conditions such as stroke, pulmonary embolism, heart attack and pregnancy loss. APS can also affect the kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system.

APS is a complex disorder with many symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and skin rashes. Diagnosis is determined by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies in the blood, as well as persistent blood clots or other symptoms. 

In an interaction with OnlyMyHealth Editorial team, Dr Aruna Kalra - Director Obstetrics & Gynaecology - CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, explained how antiphospholipid syndrome affects pregnancy. 

How Antiphospholipid Syndrome Affects Pregnancy

The maximum probability of conception in any menstrual cycle is 30%. Only 50% of all conceptions advance beyond 20 weeks. Chemical pregnancies may account for 50-70% of all miscarriages. Lifestyle, environmental toxins, obesity, air pollution, cigarette smoking, caffeine and alcohol have toxic effects on developing embryos, resulting in miscarriage, birth defects and growth restriction. Antiphospholipid syndrome can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and placental insufficiency. Women with APS may be at higher risk of preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, and thrombosis (blood clots). In addition, APS can cause anaemia, foetal growth restriction, and foetal death. 

Also read: 7 Vital Facts About Miscarriage Women Must Know To Maintain Healthy Pregnancy

Dr Kalra added that anti-phospholipid antibodies are also associated with recurrent pregnancy loss due to placental clots clogging the blood supply to the developing foetus.

It may cause adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, or stillbirth due to a hyper-coagulability state resulting in a poor blood supply to the foetus.

Anti-phospholipid syndrome or inherited thrombophilia has a genetic predisposition to venous thromboembolism, i.e., increased blood clotting.

Most common factors responsible for APS are: 

  • Factor V Leiden mutation
  • Protein C deficiency 
  • Protein S deficiency 
  • MTHFR mutation
  • Antithrombin-3 deficiency 

Treatment Of Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Treatment for APS during pregnancy typically involves anticoagulant medications, such as heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin, as well as aspirin. Women with APS should be monitored closely during pregnancy and should discuss their individual risks with their healthcare provider. According to Dr. Kalra three main treatment options of APS are:

  • Folic acid supplements and vit B supplements started prior to conception 
  • Aspirin 
  • Heparin 

Antiphospholipid syndrome, uterine anomalies and abnormal chromosomes in either partner have established causes of recurrent pregnancy loss. Endocrine disturbances like hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and PCOS  have also a causative relation with pregnancy losses in addition to immune dysfunction, infection and psychological stress.

Also read: What Is Recurrent Miscarriage? Know The Causes From An Expert

APS is a serious condition that can lead to long-term health complications and even death if left untreated. Working closely with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your situation is important. However, the prognosis for couples with recurrent pregnancy loss is not determined by a single parameter. The circumstances of previous losses, past medical history, maternal age, as well as emotional factors affect the couple. The evaluation is dependent on multiple factors and tailored to each couple

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