Lupus Anticoagulant Antibodies and Repeated Miscarriage

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If you've tested positive for lupus anticoagulant antibodies, you likely want to know what effect this will have on a pregnancy or if the condition played a role in a previous miscarriage.

Better your understanding of this diagnosis with this review, which includes the risks and possible treatments for this condition.

What a Positive Lupus Anticoagulant Antibodies Test Means

Lupus anticoagulant antibodies are one of the markers for antiphospholipid syndrome, a disorder in which the body creates antibodies against phospholipids (normal components of human blood cells). Accordingly, lupus anticoagulant and other antiphospholipid antibodies can cause tiny blood clots that can lead to pregnancy complications, including miscarriage.

A person will usually have no symptoms of having lupus anticoagulant antibodies but might have a recurrent miscarriage or blood clots.

Testing for Lupus Anticoagulant Antibodies

Doctors do not test directly for lupus anticoagulants but make the diagnosis based on the results of one or more of the following laboratory tests:

  • Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT)
  • Dilute or Modified Russell's Viper Venom Test (dRVVT or MRVVT)
  • Prothrombin Time (PT)
  • Kaolin Plasma Clotting Time (KCT)

If tests return with abnormal values, your doctor may order follow-up tests to confirm the abnormalities and be sure that the unusual results were not due to lab contamination or other clotting abnormalities.

Miscarriage is a devastating occurrence for women hoping to be mothers. Many women want answers as to why they've experienced recurrent pregnancy loss. While the finding of lupus anticoagulant antibodies may give answers to some women, others will test negative for these antibodies and once again desperately seek answers about why they can't carry a baby to term.

Unfortunately, some of these women may never get the answers they seek. Others will continue to have blood work done in their quest for an explanation.

If you do test positive for lupus anticoagulant antibodies, however, your doctor will let you know the next steps you can take.

Treatment for Women With Lupus Anticoagulant Antibodies

Despite the name, people with lupus anticoagulant antibodies do not necessarily have systemic lupus erythematosus, the disorder is commonly known as lupus, although people with that disorder may have lupus anticoagulants. Lupus anticoagulant antibodies may occur in people with numerous types of autoimmune diseases but may also occur in those with no known cause.

If you receive a diagnosis of lupus anticoagulant antibodies (or antiphospholipid syndrome) from an OB/GYN as a part of recurrent miscarriage testing, be sure to ask your doctor whether you might need to follow up with a general practitioner or specialist for monitoring.

For women with a diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome resulting from positive lupus anticoagulants, the treatment is usually low-dose or "baby" aspirin or heparin injections during pregnancy. This treatment appears to improve the odds of a good pregnancy outcome.

Talk with your doctor about the treatment options available to you and if she thinks these treatments will allow you to carry a baby to term. Ask your doctor if you might have any other medical conditions that will make it difficult for you to have a successful pregnancy and which tests or exams might uncover these conditions.

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  • Empson, M., M. Lassere, J. Craig, and J. Scott, "Prevention of Recurrent Miscarriage for Women With Antiphospholipid Antibody or Lupus Anticoagulant." Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2005. 

  • Lupus Anticoagulant Working Party, "Guidelines on Testing for the Lupus Anticoagulant." Journal of Clinical Pathology 1991:885-89. 

  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry, "Lupus Anticoagulant: At a Glance." LabTestsOnline 23 May 2007. 
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