Congenital heart defect indicator: SS-antibodies test
Babies born to mothers with autoimmune problems and SSA antibodies are at risk for congenital complete heart block (slow heart rate).
Why is my baby at risk for a slow heart rate?
When SSA antibodies pass from the mother to the baby in the womb they can inflame the baby’s heart muscle.
- This is most common between 18 and 24 weeks, but can happen at any point during pregnancy
- Only 3 to 5% of babies born to mothers with these antibodies develop a slow heart rate
- It is not known why some babies do develop a slow heart rate and others do not
What can SSAs do to my baby's heart?
SSAs can lead to:
- Leaky heart valves
- Poor heart function, or
- Slow heart rate
The risk of having a baby with a slow heart rate due to SSA antibodies is higher if the mother has any of the following:
- Low thyroid
- SSB antibodies
- A prior child with slow heart rate (15-20% likely to happen again with future children)
- High level of SSA antibodies (>100U/ml)
Some studies show that the use of a drug called Plaquenil may protect the baby’s heart while in the mother. The reason for this is unknown.
Mothers with SSA antibodies should have the baby’s heart checked while pregnant. A test called an echocardiogram is taken when the mother is 18,20,22,24, and 32 weeks along in her pregnancy. This test is not harmful to the baby.