How Does Inflammatory Bowel Disease Activity Impacts Pregnancy?

Also, women without obvious IBD activity often have microscopic inflammation in the intestinal mucosa. Until now, however, it has been unknown whether even microscopic inflammation may be associated with risks in pregnancy.

, shows that microscopic inflammation in IBD, especially ulcerative colitis, is linked to an elevated risk of giving birth prematurely.

Among babies born to women with microscopic inflammation due to IBD, 9.6 percent were preterm, while 6.5 percent of children were born preterm to women without microscopic inflammation of IBD. This corresponds to a relative risk increase of 46 percent.


Microscopic inflammation was not associated with other adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as growth restriction. The results are based on registered data on women in Sweden, diagnosed with IBD in 1990-2016, in whom information was available on the microscopic appearance of the intestine shortly before pregnancy.

The study included 1,223 children of women with microscopic IBD inflammation of the intestine and 630 children of women with IBD but with the microscopically healed intestinal mucosa. Through register linkages, data were also retrieved from several national health registers, such as the Swedish Medical Birth Register and the Swedish Quality Register for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (SWIBREG).

Prospect of New Treatment Targets

The results suggest that IBD treatment is aimed at not merely alleviating symptoms of IBD, but also microscopically healing the intestine, which can reduce the risk of giving birth preterm. If the results hold up in future studies, they may therefore be the basis for recommendations to confirm microscopic healing before pregnancy, to reduce such risks.

Even a modestly increased relative risk of preterm birth is important, given that preterm birth can greatly affect the child’s health in both the short and the long term. Preterm birth is still one of the most common causes of death for children under the age of five.

Source: Eurekalert

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