Reproductive outcomes following hydroxychloroquine use for autoimmune diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Yusuf Cem Kaplan, Jak Ozsarfati, Cheri Nickel, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Aims: The objective of this meta-analysis was to determine whether gestational use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for autoimmune disorders leads to an increase in the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases were searched from inception to November 21 2014. Studies which reported the outcomes of pregnant women after exposure to HCQ during pregnancy and including a control (unexposed) group were included. Two independent reviewers carried out the review and the quality assessment using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies (MINORS). A random effects method was used to calculate the odds ratios (OR) for the outcomes. Results: The meta-analysis reported no significant increases in rates of major congenital (OR 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.59, 2.17), craniofacial (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.13, 3.03), cardiovascular (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.29, 3.86), genitourinary (OR 1.38, 95% CI 0.42, 4.53), nervous system malformations (OR 1.81, 95% CI 0.31, 10.52), stillbirth (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.35, 1.34), low birth weight (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.21, 2.27) or prematurity (OR 1.75, 95% CI 0.95, 3.24). The rate of spontaneous abortions, however, was found to be significantly increased in HCQ exposed pregnancies (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.10, 3.13). No significant heterogeneity was detected among the studies for the evaluated outcomes except prematurity. Conclusions: Prenatal exposure to HCQ for autoimmune diseases does not appear to increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes except spontaneous abortion rate, which may be associated with the underlying disease activity (bias by indication) and needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-848
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • autoimmune diseases
  • congenital abnormalities
  • hydroxychloroquine
  • pregnancy
  • systemic lupus erythematosus


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