Center for Better Beginnings Launches Its First Study on Lupus Treatment During Pregnancy

On September 23, 2022 the Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego began enrollment for its first study on the treatment of lupus during pregnancy. The study will recruit 400 pregnant people over a five-year period to evaluate use of the lupus drug Benlysta® (belimumab) in pregnancy. Benlysta® is used to treat the most common type of lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as well as lupus nephritis. Currently there is limited information on the drug’s use in pregnancy.

The study will be the Center’s first to focus on a treatment specifically for lupus, and it will be led by perinatal epidemiologist Dr. Christina Chambers, Co-Director of the Center for Better Beginnings and Chief of the Environmental Science and Health Division at UC San Diego. Participants will be enrolled into the Center’s MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies research program.

“We know lupus can raise the risk of pregnancy complications, so it’s important for both the mom and her developing baby that this condition to be well-managed during pregnancy,” said Chambers. “So, when treatments for lupus like belimumab are available, we want to do our best to gather information about those pregnancies where this medication has been used.”

The study is enrolling those with and without exposure to Benlysta®, and will provide critical information on the use of this medication during pregnancy. Participants will not be asked to change any part of their health care routine, including medications, nor will they be asked to travel. MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies are conducted by the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists and coordinated at the Center for Better Beginnings.

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More about OTIS and MotherToBaby

The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) is a professional scientific society made up of individuals engaged in assessing and evaluating risks to pregnancy and breastfeeding from environmental exposures. Members include, but are not limited to, specialists in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, genetics, dysmorphology, perinatal epidemiology, teratology, behavioral teratology, pharmacy, genetic counseling, nursing, midwifery, maternal and child health, public health, and includes experts that provide MotherToBaby services and researchers that conduct MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies. MotherToBaby is a suggested resource by many federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MotherToBaby is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,000,000 with zero percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents of this release are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. To learn more about MotherToBaby and OTIS, please visit