Neonatal Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Syndrome: a Comprehensive Review

Federica Vanoni, Sebastiano A.G. Lava, Emilio F. Fossali, Riccardo Cavalli, Giacomo D. Simonetti, Mario G. Bianchetti, Marie Ange Bozzini, Carlo Agostoni, Gregorio P. Milani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neonatal lupus erythematosus is an uncommon syndrome, which is caused by transplacental passage of maternal autoantibodies to Sjögren’s syndrome A or B autoantigens. The clinical presentation includes distinctive cutaneous lesions resembling those seen in systemic lupus erythematosus, hepatobiliary disease, and cytopenias, which disappear with the clearance of maternal autoantibodies. The most severe presentation is a total atrioventricular heart block, which begins during the second trimester of gestation and is irreversible. The risk of having a child with neonatal lupus erythematosus in mothers who test positive for autoantibodies to Sjögren’s syndrome autoantigens is approximately 2% for first pregnancies or if previous babies were healthy. The risk increases by approximately tenfold if a previous child had neonatal lupus erythematosus syndrome. The diagnosis of neonatal lupus erythematosus is made when the mother has autoantibodies to Sjögren’s syndrome autoantigens, and the fetus or newborn develops atrioventricular heart block, or the newborn develops the typical rash or hepatic or hematologic manifestations in the absence of other explanation. Fetal echocardiography from the 16th to the 26th week of gestation is advised in mothers with autoantibodies to Sjögren autoantigens. The detection of a slow fetal heart rate or the postnatal diagnosis of atrioventricular heart block warrants immediate maternal testing for these autoantibodies if not previously tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Autoantibodies to Sjögren’s syndrome autoantigens
  • Congenital atrioventricular heart block
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Neonatal lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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