Management of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Special Populations: Obese, Old or Obstetric

Singh S1, Picardo S2, Seow CH3. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Nov 8. pii: S1542-3565(19)31263-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.11.009. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

1 Division of Gastroenterology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California; Division of Biomedical Informatics, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California. Electronic address: sis040@ucsd.edu.

2 Inflammatory Bowel Disease Centre, Department of Gastroenterology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

3 Inflammatory Bowel Disease Centre, Department of Gastroenterology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address: cseow@ucalgary.ca.


The epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is progressively evolving impacting the type of patients with IBD we will see in clinical practice. In this review, we discuss specific challenges and solutions in the management of (a) obese, (b) older and (c) obstetric (pregnant) patients with IBD. With the global obesity epidemic, almost one in three patients with IBD are obese. Obesity is associated with greater difficulty in achieving remission, higher risk of disease relapse and higher burden and costs of hospitalization in patients with IBD. Obese patients also have inferior response to biologic therapy related to altered pharmacokinetics and obesity-mediated chronic inflammation. Surgical management of obese patients with IBD is also challenging. Similar to obesity, the prevalence of IBD in older patients is rising and it is anticipated that almost one-third of patients with IBD will be older than 60 years within the next decade. Older patients present unique diagnostic and therapeutic dilemmas, and management of these individuals warrants careful consideration of the risks of disease-related vs. treatment-related complications, non-IBD-related extra-intestinal complications (e.g. cardiovascular disease, malignancy), in the context of individual values, preferences, functional status and comorbidities. With evolving therapeutics, medical management of IBD surrounding pregnancy continues to be challenging. Overall, the management of pregnant patients requires a pro-active, multidisciplinary approach, with an emphasis on optimal disease control not just during, but prior to pregnancy. This often involves continuation of highly effective therapies, of which the vast majority are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, resulting in a reduction of risk of adverse maternal fetal outcomes.

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