Neonatal lupus is a rare autoimmune disorder that is present at birth (congenital). Affected infants often develop a characteristic red rash or skin eruption. In addition, infants with neonatal lupus may develop liver disease, a heart condition known as congenital heart block, and/or low numbers of circulating blood platelets that assist in blood clotting functions (thrombocytopenia). The symptoms associated with neonatal lupus, with the exception of congenital heart block, usually resolve within the first several months of life.
The exact cause of neonatal lupus is unknown, although researchers speculate that specific antibodies that travel from a pregnant woman to her developing fetus via the placenta play a significant role.
Neonatal lupus is not the infant form of lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) although the skin rash resembles the one associated with lupus. Neonatal lupus is a separate disorder.
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