Immune disorders of pregnancy
Immune disorders of pregnancy
Human immune system has evolved for a long time to be able to quickly identify foreign substances in the body and protect us against them. Daily it must fight with various viruses and bacteria which are constantly attacking us. Thanks to immune system, we do not die on the common cold, light flu, or injury. For proper functioning, immune system must learn to recognize the body's own tissues, tolerate them and not to attack them. Unfortunately, among some persons, immune system still mistakenly recognizes the body's own cells and attacks them from unknown reason. This is the essence of autoimmune diseases. Immunity in pregnancy is very interesting fact. Since sperms and also fetus are foreign to the organism of mother. Organism solved this problem on several levels. In the semen of men are substances that locally supress the immune system of women. Also, the blood circulation of fetus and mother are strictly separated from each other because the immune cells and antibodies are contained in the blood. Moreover, in pregnancy, the immunity is naturally supressed by produced hormones. This system generally works very well. Unfortunately, a problem sometimes occurs and thanks to it is mother unable to carry a child.
Immune disorders of pregnancy and their causes
The first cause of inability to carry a child are mothers antibodies that are produced against fetal cells, i.e. cells responsible for nidation in the uterus. These are so-called antibodies against trophoblast. If they are produced by the woman, it either does not come to the nidation of embryo or abortion of the fetus occurs over the time. If antibodies against sperms that may be in cervical mucus are produced, a simple solution called assisted reproduction is performed. This way is the mother's immune system bypassed. However, if the antibodies are formed directly against the fetus, the only option is to suppress the immune system of the mother by medications. Another cause of infertility is that the mother forms antibodies against antiphospholipids which are, for example, in the placental blood vessels. Antibodies bind to blood vessels and clog them. Accordingly, the blood in the placenta which nourishes the baby can not circulate sufficiently and this can lead to miscarriage.
Immune disorders of pregnancy and autoimmune diseases
During pregnancy are important substances for survival of the child exchanged between blood circulation of mother and child. For example, oxygen, nutrients, hormones. Unfortunately, in some cases also unwanted antibodies. If the mother suffers from an autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Sjögren's syndrome, antibodies that are formed in the female body pass through the placenta into the blood circulation of child. Accordingly, these antibodies are spread over the child's body and react with its tissues. These antibodies may also react with heart tissue, and so impairment of the heart conduction system can develop. The solution of this situation is implantation of pacemaker right after child birth. For this reason, those mothers should be monitored throughout the whole pregnancy.
Immune disorders of pregnancy and Rh factor
Another immunologic challenge during pregnancy may be divergence in Rh factors of mother and child. If the mother is negative and the father is positive, there is the risk of that the child will be also positive and the mother will react to it as to foreign. Mother will produce antibodies against the Rh factor which is bound to the red blood cells. During the first pregnancy is this risk not so high but in following ones, the risk increases substantially. The antibodies will bind to the child's blood cells and destroy them. Therefore, the fetus will suffer from anaemia and will be not sufficiently nourished with oxygen. In extreme cases, this can lead to miscarriage. Immunological causes of infertility are complex chapter. These problems are domain of specialized centres which can suggest optimal solutions and facilitate the way to long awaited baby.