Crohn’s and Pregnant
Reported April 23, 2009
ROCHESTER, Minn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than half a million Americans have Crohn’s disease — a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract that causes stomach pain, diarrhea, low energy and joint pain. Many women worry the condition will keep them from becoming mothers, but new medicine is helping them have healthy pregnancies.
At just a week old, everything little Kacie does makes Mom proud.
“It’s just amazing to see her come out completely fine,” Jennifer Adler told Ivanhoe. “It’s such a relief.”
A relief because Adler has Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract.
“I was about six weeks pregnant, and it flared up pretty badly,” Adler said. “I’ve actually been on steroids ever since I was six weeks pregnant just to keep the disease under control.”
For years, women with the disease were warned pregnancy could be dangerous to their health, and medication could be dangerous to their babies. Times are changing.
“The majority of women with Crohn’s disease can get pregnant without undue risk to themselves or to the baby,” William Tremaine, M.D., a gastroenterologist at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told Ivanhoe.
Doctors say newer drugs like adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia) and infliximab (Remicade) appear to be safe to take during pregnancy. But there are others to avoid including methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), which could cause birth defects.
Doctors say it’s important for women with Crohn’s to get their disease under control before getting pregnant.
“If you are ill, you have a two out of three chance of staying ill during the pregnancy, so play the odds,” Dr. Tremaine said. “Get well before you get pregnant.”
It wasn’t an easy pregnancy for Adler, but the planning and careful monitoring gave her a happy ending.
“Just completely worth it in the end,” Adler said.
The newer drugs can be taken long-term to control Crohn’s unlike steroids, which are not safe or effective for long-term use.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. Doctors say it’s unlikely that a mother with Crohn’s will pass the disease onto her baby. Only 15 percent of people with Crohn’s also have a parent with the disease.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
Dana Wirth Sparks
Department of Public Affairs
The Mayo Clinic