Background: It has been reported that women with an inherited deficiency of antithrombin, protein C, or protein S have an increased risk for developing venous thromboembolic disease during pregnancy and the postpartum period. However, because the available data on risk are flawed, it is difficult to define a rational, efficacious, and safe policy about prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism in these women.
Objective: To determine the frequency of venous thromboembolism during pregnancy and the postpartum period in women with heritable deficiencies of anticoagulant factors.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: University outpatient clinics in the Netherlands and Italy.
Participants: 129 otherwise asymptomatic female family members of patients with a history of venous thromboembolism and an established deficiency of antithrombin, protein C, or protein S.
Measurements: Medical history, with specific attention to episodes of venous thromboembolism and obstetric history, was taken. The anticoagulant factor status of the study participants was determined. If a patient had an episode of venous thromboembolism, subsequent pregnancies in that patient were not analyzed.
Results: Of the 129 women who participated in the study, 60 had anticoagulant factor deficiency and 69 did not. In the nondeficient group, 198 pregnancies occurred; 1 of these (0.5%) was complicated by an episode of venous thromboembolism during the postpartum period. In the deficient group, 169 pregnancies occurred; 7 of these (4.1%) were complicated by an episode of venous thromboembolism during the third trimester of pregnancy (2 pregnancies [1.2%]) and the postpartum period (5 pregnancies [3.0%]). The risk for venous thromboembolism was increased eightfold in deficient women compared with nondeficient women (hazard ratio, 8.0 [95% CI, 1.2 to 184]).
Conclusions: Anticoagulant factor-deficient women have an increased risk for venous thromboembolism during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Although data from an appropriate randomized clinical trial are lacking, the frequency of venous thromboembolism seen in deficient women might justify the use of anticoagulative prophylaxis during the third trimester of pregnancy and the postpartum period.