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Addressing pregnancy-related concerns in women with inflammatory bowel disease: Insights from the patient's perspective
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-12, 05:49 authored by EK Flanagan, Jacqueline RichmondJacqueline Richmond, AJ Thompson, PV Desmond, SJ Bell
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd. Background and Aim: Therapeutic options for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have expanded, as has the use of IBD medications in women during the reproductive period. However, no qualitative data exist that examine the pregnancy-related concerns of women with IBD in the current era of widespread immunomodulator and biologic use. Hence, we aimed to explore in detail the impact of IBD on pregnancy from the patient's perspective. Methods: This qualitative study used semistructured interviews to explore participants' experiences regarding IBD and pregnancy until no new themes emerged. Key themes were identified using thematic analysis. Results: Fifteen women with IBD were interviewed. The majority of participants reported lingering concerns regarding their IBD medications, despite advice from their gastroenterologist that the drugs were considered safe in pregnancy. Participants more often reported medication-related fears, such as potential negative effects on their child's immune system, than concerns regarding the effect of the disease itself on their pregnancy outcomes. A common theme was a perceived lack of knowledge among non-IBD clinicians regarding IBD medications during pregnancy, which augmented pre-existing anxiety. Conclusions: This study is the first of its kind to provide an in-depth assessment of female patients' perspectives of IBD in relation to conception, pregnancy, and caring for offspring. In particular, this research characterizes the unique fears and persisting anxieties regarding IBD medications in pregnancy. The study has unearthed important insights into the specific concerns and support needs of women with IBD in order to facilitate nonjudgmental counseling designed around patient concerns and beliefs.