Music to Our Ears

New York Times columnist Natalie Angier reported in 1995 that doctors believed that famed Italian composer and violinist Nicolo Paganini had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. EDS is thought to be responsible for Paganini's "long, spidery fingers," said to have aided in his mastery of the instrument. [source: Angier]

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Pregnancy

As with EDS symptoms, the risks associated with pregnancy in EDS patients vary greatly from case to case. Risks do exist, and most doctors will closely monitor any pregnant woman with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome throughout her pregnancy. Doctors might advise some women against pregnancy if they believe the potential complications could prove fatal.

Complications that can arise during an EDS pregnancy include premature delivery and excessive bleeding during delivery. Also, if the baby inherits EDS, the membranes surrounding the baby might rupture, possibly causing extensive bleeding for the mother and danger for the child [source: Mayo Clinic]. Many EDS pregnancies result in miscarriage.

Vascular EDS presents the most potential problems for pregnancy. Because of the highly delicate state of the body, several complications can occur before and during birth. The uterus could hemorrhage or rupture before delivery, which can be fatal for the mother and would almost certainly require a hysterectomy immediately after the birth, if the mother survives. Delivery itself can be dangerous for the mother because patients with EDS have a difficult time healing. Having a C-section is especially risky, and vaginal tearing during labor can lead to more severe complications for the mother [source: Lawrence].

Doctors and geneticists typically advise women with EDS to determine genetic risk prior to becoming pregnant. This is a primary function of geneticists and genetic counselors treating people with EDS. Genetic tests help determine the risk of transmission of EDS to the fetus, which increases the number of possible complications during pregnancy [source: Lawrence]. Genetic counselors and other doctors can help explain and evaluate the risks of pregnancy.

Although the odds might seem against women with EDS giving birth without complications, each case is different. EDS patients should discuss their specific conditions and symptoms with the appropriate doctors and counselors in order to determine the best treatments and pregnancy plans for them. With pregnancy, as with all facets of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the more specific the information a person has, the better prepared he or she is to live -- and enjoy -- daily life.

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