Biologics, such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, anti-integrins and anticytokines, are therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may increase the risk of infection. Most biologics undergo placental transfer during pregnancy and persist at detectable concentrations in exposed infants. Whether this is associated with an increased risk of infantile infections is controversial. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the risk of infantile infections after in utero exposure to biologics used to treat IBD.
We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, and CENTRAL from inception to June 2020 to evaluate the association of biologic therapy during pregnancy in women with IBD and risk of infantile infections. Odds ratios of outcomes were pooled and analyzed using a random effects model.
Nine studies met the inclusion criteria comprising 8,013 women with IBD (5,212 Crohn's disease, 2,801 ulcerative colitis) who gave birth to 8,490 infants. Biologic use during pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of all infantile infections (odds ratio [OR] 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73–1.14, I2 = 30%). In a subgroup analysis for the type of infection, biologic use was associated with increased infantile upper respiratory infections (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.02–2.40, I2 = 4%). Biologic use during pregnancy was not associated with infantile antibiotic use (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.73–1.14, I2 = 30%) or infection-related hospitalizations (OR 1.33, 95% CI 0.95–1.86, I2 = 26%).
Biologics use during pregnancy in women with IBD is not associated with the overall risk of infantile infections or serious infections requiring antibiotics or hospitalizations but is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory infections.