Fertility in female patients with thalassemia
SourceJournal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism: JPEM
Volume11 Suppl 3
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With recent therapeutic advances, thalassemic patients can now reach adulthood and attain reproductive capacity. Endocrine complications due to hemosiderosis and especially hypogonatotropic hypogonadism, which present either with sexual infantilism and primary amenorrhea or with secondary amenorrhea, are common in thalassemic women. The aim of this study was to estimate the frequency of fertility among our female thalassemic patients. Our population included 50 married women with thalassemia major (TM) and 12 with thalassemia intermedia (TI) who are regularly followed in our thalassemic centers. Of the 50 patients with TM, 7 had primary amenorrhea (PA), 9 had secondary amenorrhea (SA), and 34 had normal menstrual function (NM), as did all the patients with TI. Overall we had 62 women who were able to achieve 90 pregnancies and give birth to 87 healthy babies. Most of our patients became pregnant around the age of 25 years. Associated endocrine complications were rare except in the group of patients with PA, as expected. In all patients with PA and SA, the 17 pregnancies were induced (intercourse 10, insemination 3, IVF 4). In the patients with NM and TI, 66 pregnancies were achieved spontaneously and 7 following induction (insemination 3, IVF 4). There were four twin and one triple pregnancies, which all resulted in premature deliveries. Among the seven couples in which both partners had thalassemia major, sperm donation was used in 5 cases, ovum donation in one case, and one pregnancy was achieved spontaneously. These 90 pregnancies resulted in 69 full-term, 12 pre-term, 7 abortions and 2 stillbirths. No severe obstetric complication was observed except for two patients with preeclampsia. One patient with PA who carried the triple pregnancy developed severe cardiac failure, which was successfully treated. Transfusion requirements were increased during pregnancy. Discontinuation of desferrioxamine resulted in elevation of ferritin levels during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and after delivery. Nine patients who were examined with cardiac echo had a transient increase of ESD and EDD during pregnancy, with return to normal after delivery. Labor was performed by Caesarian section in 26 births (26%) out of the 81 successful pregnancies. These collected data represent the largest number of pregnancies in thalassemic females reported so far and are clearly encouraging for the ultimate improvement of the quality of life in thalassemic patients.