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Reproductive Immunologists Answer 3 Most Common Questions Women Have About APAS
  • On September 1, 2019, a lay forum for the reproductive immune disorder (RID), a condition more commonly generalized as Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APAS), was held in Laguna Garden Café in Ayala Terraces, Cebu. The forum was led by Dr. Marysia Recto, the president of the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (PSAAI) and who was an APAS patient herself. It was attended by more than a hundred APAS and RID couples as well as immunologists and fellows from PSAAI.

    Reproductive immunologist Dr. Lara Aleta talked and explained more about APAS. Then, a panel Q&A consisted of the country's esteemed reproductive immunologists, Dr. Cherie Cervantes, Dr. Ma. Socorro Agcaoili, Dr. Jennifer Agustin, Dr. Rowena Valerio, and Dr. Michelle Buela also answered questions from the crowd. Below, they answered the three most commonly asked questions about APAS:

    Is it possible to have APAS even if you already have a child whom you conceived without being diagnosed with APAS?

    Yes, it is possible. APAS is an acquired condition, and you can have it in your next pregnancies.

    If APAS is not treated, does it automatically end up in a miscarriage?

    Treating APAS increases your chances of a successful pregnancy. While there are some cases where APAS pregnancies survive without treatment, the rate of success is significantly lower than those patients who have received treatment.

    Is there an adverse effect on the overall health of the baby with the numerous medications taken during pregnancy when you have APAS?

    There is no formal clinical study about it. But, anecdotal evidence from patients we have attended to, suggests that APAS babies are healthy.

    Philippine Society for Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology President, Dr. Marysia Recto who was an APAS patient herself (far left), Dr. Cherie Cervantes, reproductive immunologist, Dr. Fredelita Carreon-Asuncion, Head of Reproductive Immunology Council, me and Jen Israel-Haban, APAS volunteer in Cebu
    PHOTO BY Dr. Lara Aleta
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    RID is a treatable condition. Awareness and early invention are crucial — and for this to happen, we need to continue educating the public about it.

    When I joined the APAS Facebook support group (www.facebook.com/groups/allaboutapasandRID), there were less than 2,000 members who would help each other cope with the grief and loss of multiple miscarriages.

    A lot of women were only diagnosed with APAS after recurrent miscarriages, It meant that APAS was only brought to the table when a woman already had a second miscarriage. Had I known that the condition could endanger my pregnancy earlier, I would have had myself tested after my first miscarriage. It was painful to lose my second baby, knowing that it could have been prevented or, worse, spending almost the same amount of money when I had my dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure. It was as if I had given birth but without a baby.

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    With the help of the APAS Facebook support group, which has started collaborating with the Reproductive Immunology Council of PSAAI, we have seen many permutations of the condition: unexplained infertility, missed pregnancies, and even failed in-vitro fertilization (IVF). There are still no known causes, but every single day, someone could be suffering in silence for losing their dream to become a mother because of RID.

    With the help of support groups and more awareness campaigns, we can save more parents from losing their precious pregnancies.

    Balot Del Rosario is the author of the book, Lost but Found (available here), and the mom-of-two behind the blog Chronicles of The Happy APAS Mama (www.callmebalot.com). Know more about reproductive-immune disorders here.

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