Pregnant Mothers and Biological Therapy: The Shocking Truth Behind IBD Medications

Negligent Medical Community Supports Drugs with Little Evidence

Pregnant women and children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) should receive biological therapy, according to an article posted in the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America website. This article supposes that “the greatest risk to mother and fetus during pregnancy is active IBD and not the medication used to treat it.” (Boggs, American Journal of Gastroenterology 2010). However, the same paragraph continues to admit that “there are no safety data for adalimumab [one of the forerunning biological therapy drugs currently on the market] with breastfeeding.” Additionally, the article states that infliximab and certolizumab only “appear” to be safe during breastfeeding. Didn't our parents always admonish us not to be fooled by appearances?

Drug Close-Up: Infliximab

Common Side Effects:

-        Back pain

-        headache

-        mild to strong stomach pain

-        runny or stuffy nose

-        exhaustion

Rare Side Effects:

-        severe allergic reaction

-        bloody, black, or tarry stools

-        chest pain

-        dizziness, fainting

-        fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat

-        nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

-        red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin

-        seizures

-        migraines

-        sudden, unexplained weight gain or loss

-        suicidal thoughts or attempts

Prenatal Medical Disasters of the Past: The Case of Thalidomide

Infliximab and other biological drugs are brand-new, which means long-term, longitudinal studies have not been completed. How can medical professionals advertise their efficacy and safety when no research has been conducted on potential latent effects? In cases where new drugs are heavily marketed to expecting mothers, it can be educational to reflect on past public health pregnancy disasters. One such disaster was the use of thalidomide. The drug, among other things, was used extensively by women to help combat morning sickness. Unfortunately it was only years later that the horrific consequences of thalidomide bubbled to the surface- children born with an improper formation or absence of the anus, partial or total loss of sight, even paralysis. It has been said that had there been more extensive testing on animals before the drug was released, it would have been obvious that the drug was dangerous.

Don't Take Chances with Your Family

The drug companies don't have the best record when it comes to producing and selling helpful medications. While new regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.), now exist, it is still imperative that we question drug safety and look, first and foremost, for alternate routes of healing. Often times medicines produce more problems than they solve. Infants and unborn children are especially at risk. Their delicate nature predisposes them to stronger reactions to powerful drugs. Our past should teach us to be wary of the present, or at least to think more critically about it.