The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Pregnancy outcomes in heart transplant recipients

Published:February 13, 2020DOI:


      The population of female heart transplant recipients of reproductive age is growing, and counseling regarding reproductive decisions is important. We describe maternal and fetal outcomes of pregnancy in the Transplant Pregnancy Registry International.


      Data regarding pregnancies between 1987 and 2016 were collected via questionnaires, phone interviews, and medical records review. Demographics, comorbidities, changes in immunosuppressive regimens, rejection episodes during pregnancy, data on maternal retransplants, and deaths were recorded.


      A total of 91 patients reported 157 pregnancies. Mean maternal age at conception was 27 ± 5.6 years. The most common indications for transplant were congenital heart disease (22%) and viral myocarditis (18%). Average transplant to conception interval was 7 ± 6.1 years. Immunosuppression was calcineurin inhibitor–based in almost all patients, with 20% of recipients taking mycophenolic acid (MPA) while pregnant. Complications during pregnancy included pre-eclampsia (23%) and infections (14%). Rejection was reported during 9% of pregnancies and within 3 months postpartum in 7%. Livebirths occurred in 69%, with no neonatal deaths. Miscarriages occurred in 26% of pregnancies, 49% of which had MPA exposure. Mean follow-up post pregnancy was 8.9 ± 6.5 years. At last follow-up, 30 recipients had died, an average of 9.4 ± 6.2 years after pregnancy. The most common causes included allograft vasculopathy and rejection.


      This is the largest reported series of pregnancies in heart transplant recipients and demonstrates that two thirds of pregnancies reported are successful. MPA exposure is associated with increased risk of teratogenicity and miscarriage. Pre-pregnancy counseling should include discussions of risk of MPA exposure, rejection, graft dysfunction, and maternal survival.


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