Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Risk of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

Background and Objectives

Existing data on pregnancy complications in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are inconsistent. To address these inconsistencies, we investigated potential associations between IBD, IBD-related medication use during pregnancy, and pregnancy loss, pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery, Apgar score, and congenital abnormalities.


We conducted a cohort study in >85,000 Danish National Birth Cohort women who were pregnant in the period 1996-2002 and had information on IBD, IBD-related medication use (systemic or local corticosteroids, 5-aminosalicylates), pregnancy outcomes and potential confounders. We evaluated associations between IBD and adverse pregnancy/birth outcomes using Cox regression and log-linear binomial regression.


IBD was strongly and significantly associated with severe pre-eclampsia, preterm premature rupture of membranes and medically indicated preterm delivery in women using systemic corticosteroids during pregnancy (hazard ratios [HRs] >7). IBD was also associated with premature preterm rupture of membranes in women using local corticosteroid medications (HR 3.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.33-8.20) and with medically indicated preterm delivery (HR 1.91, 95% CI 0.99-3.68) in non-medicated women. Furthermore, IBD was associated with low 5-minute Apgar score in term infants (risk ratio [RR] 2.19, 95% CI 1.03-4.66). Finally, Crohn’s disease (but not ulcerative colitis) was associated with major congenital abnormalities in the offspring (RR 1.85, 95% CI 1.06-3.21). No child with a congenital abnormality born to a woman with IBD was exposed to systemic corticosteroids in utero.


Women with IBD are at increased risk of severe pre-eclampsia, medically indicated preterm delivery, preterm premature rupture of membranes, and delivering infants with low Apgar score and major congenital malformations. These associations are only partly explained by severe disease as reflected by systemic corticosteroid use.