Careful Planning, Healthier Pregnancies

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More than 6,000 women with lupus become pregnant every year. Despite recent scientific and clinical advancements, many pregnant women with lupus still experience serious complications, including miscarriage or birth defects.

A lack of careful planning and management during pregnancy are major reasons why these tragic results occur at high rates in women with lupus and other rheumatic diseases. For example, about 15% of conceptions in women with rheumatic disease occurred while the mother was taking medication that might interfere with the healthy development of a fetus and cause severe birth defects.

In recognition of these challenges and opportunities, the Rheumatology Research Foundation recently funded a project designed to educate and train community rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals on how to guide their patients through safe pregnancy and delivery.

The multi-phase project is led by Megan Clowse, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist with Duke Health who specializes in treating women with rheumatic diseases who are pregnant or hope to become pregnant.

With support from the Foundation’s Innovative Research Award, Dr. Clowse will develop reproductive health quality measures that will be incorporated into the American of College of Rheumatology’s Rheumatology Informatics System for Effectiveness (RISE) registry, which contains clinical data on more than 2 million people with rheumatic diseases. Providers will then be able to use RISE to evaluate their performance in pregnancy planning and management in this population.

In the project’s final phase, the research team will create a new reproductive health education curriculum for rheumatologists and other providers. It will include tele-mentoring that can guide learners wherever they are.

Once complete, the new reproductive health dashboard and program will be available to providers across the US.


The support for this critical work is only possible through the generosity of individuals like yourself. To invest in the future of rheumatology visit