Having Kids with Crohn’s and UC. Is it Selfish?
While I work hard to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information at the time of publishing, as time passes some information may no longer be relevant or accurate. The field of medicine is a constantly evolving science and art. Thankfully! In 1951 a woman was given a lobotomy to treat her ulcerative colitis. That wasn't even that long ago!
Am I Fit to be A Parent?
The decision to have kids when you have IBD. Clearly I don’t have any children of my own right now so I can’t offer any advice from that standpoint. Hell, I don’t even know if I want children sometimes. It’s not about whether or not I like kids (I do), or whether or not I would be a good mom (I would), but it comes down to whether or not I am healthy enough to be the kind of mother I’d hope to be.
The decision to have kids was a topic of conversation that came up with the teen girls at Camp Oasis this summer. Many mentioned how they were fearful of having children because they didn’t want to pass IBD on to their children. Some even said they don’t want to have kids because of this possibility. It’s not just camp that I see this topic come up; all over the internet I see young women talking about how they would never have kids because they wouldn’t wish IBD on their worst enemy. They also say it would make them feel very guilty.
The Risk of Passing on IBD
I completely understand those thoughts but I have a bit of a different outlook on this – first the risk of passing on IBD to your children is actually pretty low. If only one parent has IBD and the disease is Crohn’s disease then the child has a 5% chance of developing IBD in their lifetime. If only one parent has IBD and it’s ulcerative colitis the risk is even lower at 1.6%. If both parents have IBD then the risk increases to about 35%.
Here are my thoughts: If you want to have kids you should have them! Obviously this is my own personal opinion on the matter. I wouldn’t let IBD hold me back from having children unless my situation got worse and it didn’t make good sense to have children. I suppose you could look at that from a standpoint of I’m being selfish but it isn’t that at all. The thing is, my mom has a couple severe autoimmune diseases and if she decided that she didn’t want to have kids because she is sick then I would not be here.
I like being here!
I have never blamed my mom for the fact that I am sick. Okay, ONCE, in the midst of my darkest times as an emotional teenager I threw a tantrum and told her it was all her fault. But do I really blame her? No way! Does she feel guilty because I am sick? Yes.
I like my life, even with all of it’s struggles. If I were to have kids it would be because of all of the love that I have to give them and I wouldn’t let my chronic illnesses hold me back from having them. Of course I never want to see my hypothetical children suffer. I would hope that they end up perfectly healthy and it will probably break my heart when they scrape their knees or go through their first heart break. BUT, if they do end up with IBD or CIPO then I can only hope that the advances that have been made since I was a child will make it so that a deep remission is possible for most of their life.
So all I am saying here is that IBD sucks. We all agree. It would also suck to pass it on to your children and see them suffer. I think we can all agree to that too. But should you not have children because of that small risk? Not in my opinion. For me the decision to have kids comes down to a lot of other things like finances, my overall health, and more but passing on IBD (as terrible as it is) is not a factor in that decision.