Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is a disease of unknown cause that affects women more often than men (about 9 to 1). Women with lupus have a large number of antibodies in their bloodstream that are directed toward the women's own tissues. This can affect various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, muscles, lungs, brain and central nervous system.
Lupus is a concern during pregnancy because it occurs most often in young or middle-aged women who may become pregnant. Miscarriage, premature delivery and complications around the time of delivery are increased in women with lupus.
The most common symptom of lupus is joint pain. Other symptoms include rashes or sores on the skin, fever, kidney problems and hypertension.
The drug of choice to treat lupus is steroids; the most commonly prescribed steroid is prednisone. Many studies on the safety of prednisone during pregnancy have found it to be safe.