Sunanda Kane, M. D., discusses a recent paper published in the Gastroenterology Journal about the risks of birth defects in women who have inflammatory bowel disease. One of the most important questions a woman has when thinking about having children is will her inflammatory bowel disease increase the risk for birth defects.
There has been conflicted data in recent studies about inflammatory bowel disease causing birth defects. This study, published in the United Kingdom, looks at all women with inflammatory bowel disease throughout the United Kingdom from 1990 to 2010 and assess whether or not their children have a birth defect. In addition, the study assessed the mother's health in terms of if she was a smoker, the age when she conceived, where she was located geographically for prenatal care, and if she was taking any medication for her inflammatory bowel disease.
The study examined 1,700 children born to mothers with inflammatory bowel disease and compare them to over 400,000 children born to mothers without inflammatory bowel disease. The results show the birth defect rate to be exactly the same in both groups of children. There was no difference in the birth defect rate when broken down in terms of crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. The conclusion of the authors was the risk of birth defects for moms who have inflammatory bowel disease was no higher than the background population.
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Dr. Kane is a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic.