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The management of inflammatory bowel disease during pregnancy is a particular challenge because adequate disease control before and during gestation is essential for both maternal and foetal health. As a practical problem this situation arises frequently, because a quarter of patients conceive after the diagnosis of their disease.

Many of the clinical, biochemical, radiological and endoscopic investigations that are used to monitor and assess disease activity are difficult to use and interpret during pregnancy. Furthermore, patients and clinicians often have concerns about the safety of medical and surgical treatments for the foetus.

This review is designed for the practising clinician, to guide the management of patients with inflammatory bowel disease before and during pregnancy. The literature is at times conflicting and data on some issues are scanty, therefore recommendations are based on the balance of evidence including, if necessary, extrapolation from other conditions.