Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes After Fetal Exposure to Biologics and Thiopurines Among Women With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Published:November 20, 2020DOI:

      Background & Aims

      Pregnant women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may require biologic or thiopurine therapy to control disease activity. Lack of safety data has led to therapy discontinuation during pregnancy, with health repercussions to mother and child.


      Between 2007 and 2019, pregnant women with IBD were enrolled in a prospective, observational, multicenter study across the United States. The primary analysis was a comparison of 5 outcomes (congenital malformations, spontaneous abortions, preterm birth, low birth weight, and infant infections) among pregnancies exposed vs unexposed in utero to biologics, thiopurines, or a combination. Bivariate analyses followed by logistic regression models adjusted for relevant confounders were used to determine the independent effects of specific drug classes on outcomes of interest.


      Among 1490 completed pregnancies, there were 1431 live births. One-year infant outcomes were available in 1010. Exposure was to thiopurines (n = 242), biologics (n = 642), or both (n = 227) vs unexposed (n = 379). Drug exposure did not increase the rate of congenital malformations, spontaneous abortions, preterm birth, low birth weight, and infections during the first year of life. Higher disease activity was associated with risk of spontaneous abortion (hazard ratio, 3.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.51–7.69) and preterm birth with increased infant infection (odds ratio, 1.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.19–2.51).


      Biologic, thiopurine, or combination therapy exposure during pregnancy was not associated with increased adverse maternal or fetal outcomes at birth or in the first year of life. Therapy with these agents can be continued throughout pregnancy in women with IBD to maintain disease control and reduce pregnancy-related adverse events., Number: NCT00904878.

      Graphical abstract


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      ASQ3 (Ages and Stages Questionnaire, 3rd edition), CI (confidence interval), HR (hazard ratio), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), LBW (low birth weight), OR (odds ratio), SAB (spontaneous abortion), TNF (tumor necrosis factor), UC (ulcerative colitis)
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