Myasthenia Gravis Makes Pregnancy Risky

Autoimmune disease increases chances of complications

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MONDAY, Nov. 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis can mean a more complicated pregnancy, claims a new Norwegian study.

Researchers found an increased risk of complications that include a three times greater incidence of preterm rupture of the amniotic membranes and twice the incidence of birth by Caesarean section. Results appear in the Nov. 25 issue of Neurology.

In people with myasthenia gravis (MG), immune system cells produce protein antibodies that block nerve impulses to the muscles. Muscle weakness -- the major symptom of MG -- is worsened by fatigue and generally improves with rest. About one in 10,000 people have MG.

Researchers in the study compared 127 births by women with MG with 1.9 million births by women without MG. Women with MG had a 17.3 percent rate of Caesarean section compared with 8.6 percent for other women. Women with MG had a 5.5 percent rate of preterm rupture of amniotic membranes compared with 1.7 percent for other women.

It's also believed that about 15 percent of babies born to women with MG develop neonatal MG when MG antibodies are passed from mother to newborn. Symptoms of MG in babies may include poor sucking and muscle tone.

The researchers found that about 4 percent of the newborns had MG, but another 8 percent of the babies had MG symptoms.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about myasthenia gravis.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Nov. 24, 2003

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