Pregnancy Information Complications Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) should be suspected whenever three or more miscarriages occur. One third of women who experience multiple miscarriages have no obvious cause for the miscarriage.

A number of factors may cause miscarriage, including physical, genetic and anatomical defects. Antiphospholipid syndrome, or APS, describes a condition in which individuals are more prone to developing blood clots as a result of autoimmune antibodies. APS has been linked to multiple miscarriages.

Often linked to systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome can cause miscarriage, and its presence indicates a high-risk pregnancy. Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune problem, and requires careful treatment during pregnancy.

Causes of Antiphospholipid Syndrome

The exact cause of antiphospholipid syndrome is unclear. APS and multiple miscarriages are often linked to an underlying cause such as systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes or hypothyroidism, but in a number of cases no such link can be made.

Antiphospholipid syndrome is diagnosed by the presence of lupus anticoagulant antibodies in the blood. Also known as anticardiolipin antibodies, their presence indicates an immune system malfunction that is associated with a risk of forming blood clots. Despite the name, people with lupus anticoagulant antibodies do not necessarily have lupus, but they do have antiphospholipid syndrome. Why these antibodies develop is unknown.

Treatment of Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Certain medications may lower the chance of miscarriage and improve pregnancy outcomes. Aspirin and heparin are blood thinners that reduce the chance of blood clots. Treatment of lupus, diabetes or other underlying causes of antiphospholipid syndrome also reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Other Names

Antiphospholipid syndrome is known by a number of different names, including:

  • anticardiolipin antibody syndrome
  • Hughes syndrome
  • lupus anticoagulant syndrome.

Resources

Beers, M. H.,