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Smith may have suffered from lupus

Startling new claims have emerged following the death of Anna Nicole Smith indicating that the model may have been suffering from lupus.

A medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of Smith's death almost three weeks ago in Seminole, Fla. Prior to her passing, Smith had allegedly used Topamax, Dilaudid and Methadone, it was revealed in hearings last week.

These three drugs are not normally prescribed to treat lupus, a disease which affects the immune system. Pregnancy, however, combined with lupus could present a severe amount of pain to a patient according to an expert contacted by Access Hollywood.

According to Dr. Bob Lahita, a practicing physician and professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School who has authored several books on the disease, about 60 percent of lupus patients develop a condition called Fibro Myalgia. The condition causes chronic and extreme pain across the body in muscles, tendons and ligaments and can make it hard for a patient to sleep. Such occurrences leave open the possibility that painkillers Topamax and Dilaudid may have been used for comfort, Dr. Lahita speculates. Dr. Lahita has been in contact with at least one other media outlet regarding his opinion since claims that Smith had the disease began to emerge.

In addition to pain, Lupus.org, a Website run by the Lupus Foundation of America, notes that pregnant lupus patients have other concerns to worry about. Antiphospholipid antibodies, which hurt the immune system, can be found in many patients with lupus and "pose a particular risk" to pregnant patients by increasing the chance of a miscarriage.

In fact, Anna Nicole had suffered one miscarriage according to Larry Birkhead, who revealed the model's loss on the stand during last week's hearings over Smith's remains.

Smith gave birth to baby Dannielynn last fall. If she did suffer from the disease, following the delivery, things may have gotten worse.

According to Dr. Lahita, three months after birth symptoms of lupus can "really flair up," he told Access Hollywood.

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