Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) commonly affect young patients in the reproductive phase of their lives.
The chronic and relapsing nature of IBD and the potential need for medical or surgical interventions raise concerns about family planning issues.
Dr Dignass and colleagues from Germany reviewed the current knowledge on IBD management in pregnant and nursing IBD patients.
A PubMed literature search was performed using the search terms ‘reproduction’ and ‘inflammatory bowel disease’ and using the headers and main subjects of each section of this article as search terms.
Male and female fertility are not impaired in the majority of IBD patients.
|Breast-feeding in IBD patients is recommended|
|Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics|
The research team found that in IBD patients with quiescent disease pregnancy outcomes are not impaired in comparison to the general population.
However, an increased incidence of pregnancy complications is observed in active IBD patients.
As methotrexate (MTX) has been demonstrated to be teratogenic, the use of methotrexate is contraindicated in patients, who wish to conceive, throughout pregnancy and when nursing.
The research team observed that normal pregnancies following methotrexate treatment at conception and later have been reported.
The team noted that most of the other currently approved IBD medications are not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes and may be used to maintain quiescent disease or to induce a rapid remission in patients with flares and active disease.
Breast-feeding in IBD patients is possible and recommended.
Dr Dignass' team comments, "The overall outcome of pregnancies in IBD patients is favourable and not different to healthy controls, thus patients with IBD should not be discouraged from having children."