Pregnancy and Marfan Syndrome
Marfan syndrome is characterized by multiple abnormalities in the connective tissue primarily affecting the skeletal system (bones and ligaments), the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), the eyes, the lungs, and the skin. Cardiovascular abnormalities are the most serious potential complication of Marfan syndrome primarily affecting the aorta (the largest artery in the body that carries the blood that is pumped out of the heart to other organs), including an aneurysm (enlarged aorta), a dissection (tear within the inner wall of the aorta), or rupture of the aorta.
Pregnancy places unique demands on the mother's cardiovascular system. In the case of women with Marfan syndrome, pregnancy and the subsequent delivery place further stress on the already compromised cardiovascular system, especially the weak aorta. Therefore, pregnancy isn't advised for women with Marfan syndrome who have an affected aorta.
Women with Marfan syndrome who would like further information regarding pregnancy are encouraged to contact the Heart Disease and Pregnancy Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The purpose of the Heart Disease and Pregnancy Program is to provide specialized care for the pregnant woman with heart disease. The goal is a successful outcome for both mother and baby. Marla A. Mendelson, MD, is the founder and director of the Heart Disease and Pregnancy Program. Known for her research on heart disease during pregnancy, heart disease in women, and adult congenital heart disease, Dr. Mendelson understands that it is imperative that all women of childbearing age who have heart disease and are contemplating pregnancy receive a complete preconception evaluation prior to becoming pregnant.
In most cases, Marfan syndrome is inherited. The pattern is called "autosomal dominant," meaning it occurs equally in men and women and can be inherited from just one parent with Marfan syndrome. Women with Marfan syndrome should consider the 50 percent possibility of passing on the gene that causes Marfan syndrome to their unborn child.
For more information regarding Marfan syndrome and related disorders, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-NM-HEART (664-3278) or request a first time appointment online.
In addition, the most credible source of information about Marfan syndrome is the National Marfan Foundation (NMF). Please visit the NMF website.