Provision of care for pregnant women with IBD in the UK: the current landscape

Frontline Gastroenterol. 2020 Aug 26;12(6):487-492. doi: 10.1136/flgastro-2020-101546. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Suboptimal control of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can result in increased rates of adverse pregnancy-related outcomes. We aimed to describe the current landscape of provision of antenatal care for women with IBD in the UK.

Methods: This cross-sectional survey collected data on service setup; principles of care pre-conception, during pregnancy and post partum; and on perceived roles and responsibilities of relevant clinicians.

Results: Data were provided for 97 IBD units. Prepregnancy counselling was offered mostly on request only (54%) and in an ad hoc manner. In 86% of units, IBD antenatal care was provided by the patient's usual gastroenterologist, rather than a gastroenterologist with expertise in pregnancy (14%). Combined clinics with obstetricians and gastroenterologists were offered in 14% of units (24% academic vs 7% district hospitals; p=0.043). Communication with obstetrics was 'as and when required' in 51% and 30% of IBD units reviewed pregnant women with IBD 'only when required'. The majority of respondents thought gastroenterologists should be involved in decisions regarding routine vaccinations (70%), breast feeding (80%), folic acid dosage (61%) and venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis (53%). Sixty-five per cent of respondents thought that gastroenterologists should be involved in decisions around mode of delivery and 30% recommended caesarean sections for previous but healed perianal disease.

Conclusions: This nationwide survey found considerable variation in IBD antenatal services. We identified deficiencies in service setup, care provided by IBD units and clinician knowledge. A basic framework to inform service setup, and better education on the available clinical guidance, is required to ensure consistent high-quality multidisciplinary care.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; ulcerative colitis.