Healthcare costs of pregnancy in systemic lupus erythematosus: Retrospective observational analysis from a US health claims database

M. Petri, R. P. Daly, D. S. Pushparajah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Systemic lupus erythematosus is a complex autoimmune disease, most frequently affecting women of childbearing age. Women with lupus are at increased risk of pregnancy complications that are exacerbated by active disease. Despite this, their use of medications and hospital resources has not been extensively studied. Methods: Retrospective analyses of the Truven Health MarketScan database (2006-2012) aimed to quantify drug and resource utilization in pregnant women with lupus, as well as the incidence of pregnancy complications in these patients. Records of women aged 12-54 were reviewed and both lupus patients and pregnancies identified. Pregnant women with lupus were matched 1:5 with either pregnant women without lupus, or non-pregnant women with lupus. Results: Pregnancies with lupus were associated with increased complications when compared to pregnancies without lupus. During pregnancy, the use of immunosuppressants decreased in pregnant women with lupus, as did rheumatologist visits, while the number of women not treated with any immunosuppressant increased. Pregnant women with lupus showed higher overall treatment costs than controls. However, compared to non-pregnant women with lupus, medication costs actually dropped, possibly due to the withdrawal of medications from these patients or women becoming pregnant while disease activity was low. Conclusions: The large database analyses reported here revealed that pregnancies in women with lupus were associated with a higher risk of complications, higher healthcare costs, and fewer prescribed medications, including immunosuppressants, than the control groups. The increased risk of complications and decreased immunosuppressant use suggest that patients require additional guidance from physicians to give them the best chance of experiencing a safe pregnancy. Indeed, despite the recognized role active lupus plays in increasing pregnancy complications, women with lupus had fewer rheumatology visits during pregnancy, although their visits to their general practitioner/primary healthcare provider increased, highlighting the need for team-based co-ordination care between OBGYN physicians and rheumatologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-973
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2 2015


  • Healthcare costs
  • Pregnancy
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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