Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body makes antibodies against one's own normal body chemicals. In these diseases, antibodies cannot tell antigens in the inside of the cell from antigens outside of the cell. When the antibodies attack the internal cells, the reactions can be local - in just a small area, or systemic - throughout the whole body. The skin and connective tissues (cartilage, bone, tendons) are most affected but other tissues can be affected, as well, including nerve and muscle.

Terms for autoimmune disease include collagen vascular disease or collagen disease. Other autoimmune diseases include the following:

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus)
  • antiphospholipid syndrome
  • myasthenia gravis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • scleroderma

Some autoimmune diseases have little or no effect on pregnancy, while others can greatly increase the risks for pregnancy loss and maternal and fetal illness. Likewise, pregnancy can affect some autoimmune diseases, but not others.

Pregnant women with an autoimmune disease require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. Listed in the directory below is some additional information regarding autoimmune diseases, for which we have provided a brief overview.

If you cannot find the information in which you are interested, please visit the High-Risk Pregnancy Online Resources page in this Web site for an Internet/World Wide Web address that may contain additional information on that topic.

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