Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an emerging disease in the tropics with improving socioeconomic status and change in dietary practices and worsening economic disparity.
Infective diarrhea is the commonest reason for an acute episode of altered bowel symptoms in India. However, some of these infections can persist for more than 2 weeks, and given the high burden of infections in the tropical regions delay the diagnosis of inflammatory disorders. India has also a high burden of chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and chronic amebiasis that can mimic clinical presentation to Crohns disease that affect the ileocecal region.
In European countries, the incidence rates of Ulcerative Colitis (UC)and Crohn’s Disease (CD), are 10.4/100 000 and 5.6/100 000 per year, respectively(1).Epidemiological studies from India(2)(3) have reported a prevalence rate of 42.8–44.3/100,000, and a crude incidence rate of 6.02/100 000 population. Access to clean drinking water was an independent risk factor for developing CD (4).
Both CD and UC affect women in the reproductive age group. Around one in four women diagnosed to have IBD become pregnant(5). Hence, it is important to understand the effects of IBD on pregnancy and vice versa for treatment of pregnant women with IBD especially in a tropical country with high infectious disease load. Women with IBD may choose to avoid pregnancy or discontinue their medications during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are less likely to be subjected to invasive investigations like colonoscopy to diagnose CD. Non-invasive tests like fecal calprotectin can be falsely positive in tuberculosis (6). Diagnostic delay in IBD is associated with poorer outcomes and increased risk of requiring surgery(7).
Population-based case control studies have reported no increase in still birth, neonatal death or spontaneous abortion(8) but is associated with premature births and low birth weight infants (9). Maintaining remission before pregnancy with appropriate medications offsets the risks of disease flares. These effects in a tropical country have not been studied.