Pregnancy and IBD

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide

    In the past, women with IBD were counseled against pregnancy. These days however, a healthy pregnancy and baby are both possible for couples living with IBD. If you and your partner are planning for a new family member in 2009, this SharePost is written for you, and includes answers to some frequently asked questions.


    Will becoming pregnant be a problem?

    While active Crohn's disease can reduce fertility in several ways, fertility rates for women with IBD are comparable to fertility rates in the normal population. However, active inflammation in the colon as well as any inflammation or scarring directly involving the fallopian tubes or ovaries has been shown to decrease fertility. Men who have IBD and are planning on a new family member should also talk to their doctor when they are planning for a child, as some medications can cause at least temporary infertility in men.

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    Can IBD be transmitted to the baby?

    Current research suggests that the chance of passing the disease onto your offspring is low. If one parent has Crohn's disease, then the chances of disease transmission is only about 7 percent. If one parent has ulcerative colitis, the chances are even less. The risk of IBD being passed on to a baby is increased if both parents have the disease.


    Will my IBD affect my pregnancy?

    Establishing and maintaining remission prior to conception will help the pregnancy proceed smoothly. Some research shows that women with IBD who are in remission are no more likely to experience spontaneous abortion or stillbirth, or to have children with congenital abnormalities than women without IBD. Women with Crohn's disease do appear to be more at risk for low birth weight infants. Miscarriage is more frequent in women with active disease than in the general population (about a third of conceptions).


    Will the symptoms of IBD get worse during pregnancy?

    The scientific community is still out on this one. There is research showing that the disease can get worse during pregnancy (especially if the disease is active at the time of conception), and there is also research suggesting pregnancy may actually decrease the symptoms of IBD.


    Will medications used to treat my IBD be safe during pregnancy?

    The majority of medications used to treat IBD are safe during pregnancy. Of course, letting your doctor know you are considering pregnancy is necessary so that he or she can make sure the medications you are taking are ones which are proven safe during conception and pregnancy. Family planning is especially important if you are living with IBD.


Published On: January 08, 2009