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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Pregnancy With Ulcerative Colitis

How will UC medication affect my pregnancy?

Two drugs for ulcerative colitis are known to cause birth defects: methotrexate and thalidomide. Ask your doctor to switch you to other drugs at least 3 months before you plan to start trying to get pregnant.

Your doctor may recommend that you stop taking steroids or take a very low dose. Steroids can be risky during pregnancy, including a slightly higher chance that a baby will be born with a cleft palate.

Other medications for ulcerative colitis may be OK to take. Talk to your doctor about keeping your UC under control and how you'll handle a flare during pregnancy.

Can I deliver a healthy baby?

Your chances of having a healthy baby are very good with the proper care. You'll want to work closely with your doctors to keep your UC well controlled throughout your pregnancy, because women with IBD can more likely to have complications such as miscarriage, preterm delivery, and delivering a low-birth-weight baby. The risk of birth defects may also be slightly higher, but that's more likely due to the medications for ulcerative colitis, not the disease itself.

Your OB-GYN will treat your pregnancy as high-risk and refer you to a perinatologist, an OB specializing in high-risk, complicated pregnancies. That means you'll get regular checkups from your OB-GYN, gastroenterologist, and the specialist. 

How will my ulcerative colitis affect my baby?

The chance of a woman passing ulcerative colitis to her baby is very small -- about 2% to 5%. The risk goes up to about 30% if both parents have IBD.

Let your pediatrician know about any ulcerative colitis drugs you were taking while you were pregnant.

If you took a biologic drug during the last two trimesters, your baby's developing immune system could have been affected. Your baby can't get any shots with live viruses, such as the rotavirus vaccine, in the first 6 months.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on November 27, 2013
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