Conjugal inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review and European survey

Authors Maria Pia Costa-Santos, Catarina Frias-Gomes, António Oliveira, João Sabino, Miriam Mañosa, Pierre Ellul, Ana Sampaio, Luisa Avedano, Salvo Leone, Jean-Frédéric Colombel, Joana Torres.


Background The frequency of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is increased after marriage to an individual with the disease. Importantly, the offspring of these couples have a significant risk for developing the disease. Herein, we aimed to better characterize conjugal IBD.

Methods A systematic literature search was conducted with predetermined search criteria. Relevant manuscripts reporting on couples with IBD and their offspring were selected. Concomitantly, a cross-sectional survey was conducted of couples where both members were affected with IBD, as well as their offspring, and electronically distributed by patients’ associations.

Results We identified 20 reports of IBD in couples, for a total of 68 couples. Of these, 66% were concordant regarding IBD type and 66% were diagnosed after cohabitation. The overall prevalence of IBD in the offspring of these couples was 29%. Our survey identified 58 couples with IBD, with 62% being concordant regarding IBD type; 42.9% were diagnosed prior to cohabitation, in 12.5% one spouse was diagnosed before and the other after cohabitation, and in 44.6% the onset of disease occurred after cohabitation for both. The prevalence of IBD in children born from these couples was 10%. The probability of developing disease in the progeny was 2% at 10 years, 12% at 15 years, and 16% at 20 years of age.

Conclusions IBD in couples occurs mostly after marriage to an individual with disease or after many years of cohabitation. In a modern cohort, the risk for the progeny was around 16% by the age of 20, lower than previously reported.

Keywords Inflammatory bowel disease, family history, couples, offspring

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (3): 361-369

Original Articles