“Grey’s Anatomy” Spotlights High-Risk Pregnancy in Woman with an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Posted March 23, 2018

March 23, 2018 — Last night’s Grey’s Anatomy episode “Caught Somewhere In Time” featured a character named Liz with an unspecified type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Liz was 23 weeks pregnant and complaining of back pain. Upon examination, Dr. Arizona Robbins determined that Liz had an incompetent cervix, which was causing her amniotic sack to bulge through. Liz was having contractions, which caused her back pain. Dr. Robbins acknowledged that her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome caused this complication, which was putting her at risk for preterm delivery due to the possible rupture of her amniotic sack.

While the episode did not specify Liz’s Ehlers-Danlos type, all forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes can cause tissue fragility leading to the type of complication seen in the episode.

According to “Obstetric and gynecologic challenges in women with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome” by Hurst et al., it was reported that:

“Of the 775 stratified survey respondents, 18.2% have classical-type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, 77% have hypermobility, and 4.8% have vascular-type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. For those women with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome who reported at least one pregnancy, one or more term births were reported by 69.7%; one or more preterm births between 20 and 36 weeks of gestation were reported by 25.2%; one or more spontaneous abortions before 20 weeks of gestation age were reported by 57.2%; and one or more ectopic pregnancies were reported by 5.1%.”

They concluded that, “The results of this study demonstrate that reproductive and gynecologic issues are reported by women participating in a survey on the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome website in a much higher rate than in the general population. Additionally, the study demonstrates significant differences in rates of gynecologic dysfunction among the three most common types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome with vascular-type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome having the most obstetric complications and menstrual bleeding irregularities. We recommend that health care providers urge patients to receive typed diagnosis of their Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and tailor their counseling, education, and patient care to the type-specific risks.”

More research is needed in this area.


For more information about pregnancy complications in different types of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes:

Hypermobile type

Classical type

Vascular type

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