IBD Briefs: May 2019 (Part 1)

H Khalili et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 123-29.  Using data from two prospective Swedish cohort sutdies with 83,042 participants (age 44-83 yrs), the authors determined that there was “no evidence for association between consumption of sweetened beverages and later risk of” Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

WJ Sandborn et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 946-57.  This study published data from 354 patients who received subcutaneous abrilumab, an anti-alpha4beta7 antibody as a treatment for moderate-to-severe colitis. This 8 week treatment increased the odds of remission compared with placebo.

B Wynne et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 935-45. This study showed that a psychological intervention termed “acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)” was effective in a randomized controlled trial in reducing stress and depression in patients with quiescent or mildly-active IBD (n=122). With ACT, the “primary aim is to encourage subjects to adopt positive life values and to accept adverse experiences, including thoughts, feelings and sensations that are an inevitable consequence of life.”  All program materials are available in article supplement: Full text and supplement: https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2018.11.030

D Duricova et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25:789-96. This study included 72 consecutive children born to mothers with IBD treated with anti-TNF therapy during pregnancy (2007-16) along with 69 unexposed controls.  Key findings: Anti-TNF therapy exposure in utero was NOT associated with a negative impact on postnatal complications, including infections, allergy, growth, or psychomotor development. Findings are limited by the small number of participants.

AW Gridnal et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25:642-45.  The authors examined the frequency of financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) among authors of 11 relevant clinical practice guidelines for IBD in the US,  the UK, Canada, and Europe. Key finding: FCOI were frequently present with 19% prevalence among US authors, 56% in UK, 84% in Canada, and 94% in Europe.

KN Weaver et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25:767-74. This retrospective study examined the efficacy of ustekinumab for Crohn’s disease of the pouch in 56 patients; 73% had previously been treated with anti-TNF therapy, vedolizumab or both. Key finding: 83% demonstrated a clinical response 6 months and 60% with endoscopic improvement after induction with ustekinumab. Clinical response was defined as “any improvement in symptoms …including a decrease in bowel movements, pain, or fistula drainage.”

Retiro Park, Madrid
Thanks to Jennifer


Biologic Exposure Prenatally and Perinatally

The widespread use of anti-TNF therapy for inflammatory bowel disease has improved clinical outcomes including fewer surgeries, hospitalizations, and complications.  One consequence of this usage has been the exposure of infants to biologics due to their usage by their mothers during pregnancy.  A recent study (M Julsgaard et al. Gastroenterol 2016; 151: 110-19) explores this topic further.

In this study, the authors prospectively followed 80 pregnant women: 36 received adalimumab & 44 infliximab. In addition, 39 received concomitant thiopurine therapy.

Key findings:

  • The time from last exposure to anti-TNF agent correlated inversely with the concentration of these drugs in the umbilical cord and in mothers at the time of birth.
  • Median ratio for infant: mother drug concentration at birth was 1.21 for adalimumab and 1.97 for infliximab.
  • Mean time for drug clearance: 4.0 months for adalimumab and 7.3 months for infliximab. Drugs were not detected after 9 months of life for adalimumab and after 12 months of life for infliximab.
  • No increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes were identified; preterm birth was low (n=3 or 3.8%). 48% of women experienced a disease relapse during pregnancy.
  • In this small study, the relative risk for infection was 2.7 in infants exposed to combination therapy.  Benign courses of viral infections were noted in 16 (20%) of the entire cohort and of bacterial infections in 4 (5%).

The authors recommend avoidance of live virus vaccines in biologically-exposed infants for up to 1 year unless drug clearance has been documented. Currently, this would affect only rotavirus vaccination.

My take (borrowed from editorial pgs 25-26): “For now, the sum of evidence seems to support continued use of anti-TNF therapy in pregnancy when clinically indicated and, despite measureable levels in offspring, there does not seem to be a significant clinical consequence.”

Related study: “Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes among women with inflammatory bowel disease: a population-basd study from England” Inflamm Bowel Dis 2016; 22: 1621-30. The authors identified 1969 pregnancies from a total of 364,363 singleton pregnancies.  Women with Crohn’s had increased preterm births with an Odd ratio of 1.42, babies with low birth weight (OR 1.39); women with ulcerative colitis had only a small increase risk in preterm birth (absolute risk <2.7%).

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Art at Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta

Art at Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta

CCFA Conference Notes 2016 (part 4) –Pregnancy and IBD

Pregnancy and IBD –Dr. Doug Wolf

Dr. Wolf reviewed infertility, pregnancy issues, and PIANO registry. This topic has been covered elsewhere in this blog (IBD and Pregnancy | gutsandgrowth). Vedolizumab is a FDA category B; thus far, it is considered fairly safe. Thiopurines are category D but overall thought to be low risk.

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized this terrific presentation. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

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IBD and Pregnancy

While managing inflammatory bowel disease during pregnancy is not within the scope of my practice as a pediatric gastroenterologist, it is helpful to have some familiarity with the issues.

Here’s a full-text link to AGA Guidelines: The Toronto Consensus Statements for the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Pregnancy

From the abstract, an excerpt:

Consensus was reached on 29 of the 30 recommendations considered. Preconception counseling and access to specialist care are paramount in optimizing disease management. In general, women on 5-ASA, thiopurine, or anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) monotherapy for maintenance should continue therapy throughout pregnancy. Discontinuation of anti-TNF therapy or switching from combination therapy to monotherapy may be considered in very select low-risk patients. Women who have a mild to moderate disease flare while on optimized 5-ASA or thiopurine therapy should be managed with systemic corticosteroid or anti-TNF therapy, and those with a corticosteroid-resistant flare should start anti-TNF therapy. Endoscopy or urgent surgery should not be delayed during pregnancy if indicated. Decisions regarding cesarean delivery should be based on obstetric considerations and not the diagnosis of IBD alone, with the exception of women with active perianal Crohn’s disease. With the exception of methotrexate, the use of medications for IBD should not influence the decision to breast-feed and vice versa. Live vaccinations are not recommended within the first 6 months of life in the offspring of women who were on anti-TNF therapy during pregnancy.

Gastro March2016

Worried About the Zika Virus

While Zika virus infections may not be seen frequently by pediatric gastroenterologists, this infection will be a common concern for the families we treat and we may end up taking care of children with feeding problems/neurologic impairment due to congenital infection.

I attended a recent Georgia American Academy of Pediatrics board meeting.  One of the topics discussed was the Zika virus.  An update was given by Dr. Harry Keyserling, chair of the infectious disease committee (who has given permission for me to share some of his slides).  Some of the important points from his talk:

  • The Zika virus shares some similarities with the Dengue virus. The Zika virus is a single-stranded RNA flavivirus. Incubation period is 3 days to a few weeks.  It can be acquired from mosquito bites, spread sexually, transplacentally or intrapartum.  It may be transmissible via blood, organ donation or possibly breastmilk.


History of Zika Virus

History of Zika Virus

Most are asymptomatic. The clinical spectrum in those with symptoms are noted above.

Most are asymptomatic. The clinical spectrum in those with symptoms are noted above.

  • 80% of infected individuals are asymptomatic.
Approximate distribution of mosquito vector

Approximate distribution of mosquito vector

  • Due to the geographic distribution of the vector, it is likely that there will be many more cases in Georgia.

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  • The most alarming association has been with microcephaly.  In some locations, there have been recommendations to avoid pregnancy until 2018.  After natural infection has spread, it is likely to lead to immunity and then should be safe to become pregnant.


  • Zika can be acquired through sexual-transmission which indicates that pregnant women in endemic areas could need to avoid sex.

More resources:

My take: Because the Zika virus is going to continue to spread and the methods for prevention are not entirely effective, the next few years are going to present a lot of challenges.  This will continue until some population immunity develops (following infection or perhaps after development of an effective vaccine).

Anti-TNF Therapies: Safe in Pregnancy

According a review (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2014; 20: 1862-69) of 5 studies with 1216 patients, “the use of anti-TNFα therapy does not seem to increase the risk of unfavorable pregnancy outcomes among women with IBD, although the optimal timing of therapy through pregnancy and the postpartum period was not assessed.”

Other important points:

  • “Current recommendations suggest that anti-TNFα therapies be continued during the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy.”  Withholding of infliximab and adalimumab during the third trimester is due to concerns of increased drug levels in infants.
  • Live virus vaccination should “be avoided for the first 6 months in children who had exposure to anti-TNFα therapies in utero.”

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Elevated Celiac Serology Associated with Reduced Infant Birth Weights

Using a population-based study of 7046 singleton pregnancies (from the Netherlands), the authors of a recent study have shown an inverse relationship between levels of anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA (TTG) antibodies and fetal growth (Gastroenterol 2013; 144: 726-35).


  • Newborns of positive TTG (>6 U/mL) weighed 159 g less at birth than newborns of mothers who tested negative for TTG.  In addition, newborns with mothers who had intermediate TTG levels ( 0.8 U/mL to 6 U/mL) had growth restriction of 53 g.
  • Among the intermediate TTG group, the results were more pronounced (2-fold greater) in those carrying the HLA risk molecules for celiac disease.
  • These birth weight changes were not associated with maternal nutritional status or deficiencies related to hemoglobin, iron, folate, or vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Gestational age was not affected by TTG titers.

In the discussion, the authors note that other studies have shown that undiagnosed celiac disease increases the risk for intrauterine growth retardation; this risk can be eliminated by treating celiac disease.  The latter is a risk factor for lower neuropsychological performance.  This study was the first that took into effect the different TTG titers and correlated with additional nutritional parameters.

The authors speculate that celiac disease could have direct effects on the placenta.  In addition, other nutritional parameters could play a role such as vitamin D and calcium which were not included in this study.  Another important consideration is that celiac disease can result in increased miscarriages.  As a result, the “true” effect on newborn growth may be underestimated due to a “survivor bias.”

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