Pregnancy and IBD treatment: this challenging interplay from a patients' perspective

J Crohns Colitis. 2010 Jun;4(2):176-82. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2009.10.001. Epub 2009 Dec 4.


Introduction: Current data suggest that exacerbations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) during pregnancy worsen perinatal outcomes. However, patients' perceptions regarding the interaction between pregnancy and IBD management are unexplored.

Aims: To (1) obtain pregnancy outcome data from local female IBD patients, and (2) to gain insight into patients' understanding of the interaction between IBD and pregnancy, and how this affects medication-taking behaviour.

Methods: Female IBD subjects aged 18-50 years were surveyed by questionnaire. This large retrospective study sought patient who reported pregnancy outcomes and examined the relationship between major adverse outcomes, IBD activity and treatment. Subjective data regarding patients' perceptions about IBD management and pregnancy were sought.

Results: 219 females were surveyed, 143 completing a questionnaire (68.1%). 342 pregnancies occurred, 298 of which outcome data were available. Overall IBD women reported adverse pregnancy outcome rates comparable to the local population. Major adverse outcomes were more frequent in the subgroup with severe disease during pregnancy (5/14 (35.7%)) than those with inactive disease (14/284 (4.9%)), (OR 6.8 (95% CI 1.7-26.3), p=0.006). Adjusting for disease severity, neither corticosteroid, azathioprine nor 5ASA affected pregnancy outcome. Most female patients (84%) reported (unwarranted) concerns about the effect of IBD medications on pregnancy, free text responses indicating that this was of greater concern than any effect of IBD exacerbation.

Conclusions: Unwarranted fear of adverse medication effect on pregnancy is highly prevalent in women with IBD, yet awareness of the harmful effect of IBD exacerbation during pregnancy is poor. This information gap between patients and their gastroenterologists warrants attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Azathioprine / adverse effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology*
  • Medication Adherence
  • Mesalamine / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Mesalamine
  • Azathioprine