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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)  and Pregnancy

I have written quite a lot about IBD and breastfeeding and compiled information on medication and tests https://breastfeeding-and-medication.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IBD-and-breastfeeding-factsheet-June-2021.pdf. The use of medication in pregnancy is not my area of expertise and I am purely providing links to those who know more.

This information is taken from The medicines Use in Pregnancy Site BUMPS https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/About-Us/ and is presented here for ease of access for parents and professionals.

Health professionals can consult the team https://uktis.org/contact-us/ but not members of the public.

Further information is also available https://crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/info-support/information-about-crohns-and-colitis/all-information-about-crohns-and-colitis/living-with-crohns-or-colitis/pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

Links to information on medication

Do not stop taking medication without discussing with your GP or IBD team

For many of the medications used to control symptoms of IBD in pregnancy live vaccines (rotavirus and if necessary BCG) should not be given to a baby under 6 months. If rotavirus is given to the baby then the mother should wear gloves during nappy changes for 2 weeks to avoid exposure to live viral fragments shed in faeces. https://breastfeeding-and-medication.co.uk/fact-sheet/live-vaccinations-and-immunosuppressant-medication-taken-by-breastfeeding-mothers

Prednisolone https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Prednisolone/

What are the benefits of using a systemic corticosteroid in pregnancy?

Corticosteroids reduce inflammation by stopping the immune system from attacking the body’s tissues. This is important to reduce unpleasant symptoms and prevent long-term damage. It may also lower the chance of some pregnancy problems linked to uncontrolled inflammation, including miscarriage and lower birth weight.

Are there any risks of using a systemic corticosteroid in pregnancy?

Corticosteroid use in early pregnancy has been linked in some (but not all) studies to a higher chance of having a baby with a cleft lip and/or palate. However, it is clear that the vast majority of babies exposed in the womb to systemic corticosteroids are born without these conditions.

Women taking a systemic corticosteroid in pregnancy may have a higher chance of having a preterm birth. However, it is thought likely that at least some of this effect is due to the underlying inflammatory conditions in these women which have themselves been linked to preterm birth.

Are there any alternatives to using a systemic corticosteroid in pregnancy?

Possibly. Other medicines can often be used to treat inflammatory conditions during pregnancy. However, systemic corticosteroids are usually considered to be among the safest options and are often recommended as a first-choice medicine to treat rheumatic and auto-immune disease during pregnancy.

Some women may find that their symptoms improve during pregnancy; if so, their specialist may advise that their medicine(s) can be altered. However, women should not change or stop their medication without speaking to their doctor.

Azathioprine https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Azathioprinemercaptopurine/

What are the benefits of using azathioprine/mercaptopurine in pregnancy?

Azathioprine and mercaptopurine reduce inflammation by stopping the immune system from attacking the body’s tissues. This is important to reduce unpleasant symptoms and prevent long-term damage. It may also lower the chance of some pregnancy problems linked to uncontrolled inflammation, including miscarriage and lower birth weight. It is also vital for both mother and baby that a transplanted organ continues to function well during pregnancy.

What are the risks of using azathioprine/mercaptopurine in pregnancy?:

There is no evidence that use of azathioprine or mercaptopurine harm the baby if taken in pregnancy.

Sulfasalazine https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Sulfasalazine/

What are the benefits of taking sulfasalazine in pregnancy?

Sulfasalazine reduces ongoing tissue damage caused by ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also controls unpleasant symptoms that can affect quality of life, and can help to prevent the pregnancy complications that have been associated with these illnesses.

Are there any risks of taking sulfasalazine during pregnancy?

There are no concerns that taking sulfasalazine in pregnancy causes problems in the baby and it is routinely prescribed for pregnant women with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Because sulfasalazine can potentially affect folic acid levels, women taking it while trying to conceive and during pregnancy should be prescribed a high dose folic acid supplement.

Infliximab https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Infliximab/

What are the benefits of using infliximab in pregnancy?

Infliximab helps to stop the immune system from attacking the body. It controls the unpleasant and often disabling symptoms of some autoimmune diseases and helps to prevent ongoing damage to tissues and organs.

What are the risks of using infliximab in pregnancy?

The available data suggests that infliximab is unlikely to affect the baby’s development. There are reports of some babies being born with a low infant birth weight following infliximab exposure. However, it is unclear if this is caused by the drug itself or the underlying illnesses in pregnant women taking infliximab.

Certolizumab https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Certolizumab/

What are the benefits of using certolizumab in pregnancy?

Certolizumab reduces inflammation by stopping the immune system from attacking the body’s tissues. This is important to reduce unpleasant symptoms and prevent long-term damage. It may also lower the chance of some pregnancy problems linked to uncontrolled inflammation, including miscarriage and lower infant birth weight. Certolizumab does not easily cross the placenta so only tiny amounts reach the baby. It is therefore not expected to cause problems in pregnancy.

What are the risks of using certolizumab in pregnancy?

There are no known risks. Use of certolizumab has been studied in around 1,400 pregnant women and there is no evidence that it affects the baby’s development.

Adalimumab https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Adalimumab/

What are the benefits of using adalimumab in pregnancy?

Adalimumab reduces inflammation by stopping the immune system from attacking the body’s tissues. This is important to reduce unpleasant symptoms and prevent long-term damage. It may also lower the chance of some pregnancy problems linked to uncontrolled inflammation, including miscarriage and lower infant birth weight.

What are the risks of using adalimumab in pregnancy?

Use of adalimumab in pregnancy has been studied in around 1,500 women. There is no suggestion that adalimumab affects the baby’s development, but ongoing data collection is ideally required to confirm this.

Etanercept https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Etanercept/

What are the benefits of using etanercept in pregnancy?

Etanercept reduces inflammation by stopping the immune system from attacking the body’s tissues. This is important to reduce unpleasant symptoms and prevent long-term damage. It may also lower the chance of some pregnancy problems linked to uncontrolled inflammation, including miscarriage and lower infant birth weight.

What are the risks of using etanercept in pregnancy?

Use of etanercept in pregnancy has been studied in around 1,200 women. There is no suggestion that etanercept affects the baby’s development but ongoing data collection is ideally required to confirm this.

Ustekinumab https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Ustekinumab/

What are the benefits of using ustekinumab in pregnancy?

Ustekinumab helps to stop the immune system from attacking the body. It controls the unpleasant and often disabling symptoms of some autoimmune diseases, and helps to prevent ongoing damage to tissues and organs. It can also reduce the risk of some adverse pregnancy outcomes that have been linked to poorly controlled autoimmune disease, including miscarriage, preterm delivery and low infant birth weight.

Are there any risks of using ustekinumab during pregnancy?

The small amount of data available suggests that ustekinumab is unlikely to harm the baby but further studies are ideally required.

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