Meet Dr. Yvette Leung
As a young internist Dr. Yvette Leung was drawn to pursue a subspecialty in gastroenterology, specifically IBD, because she knew that this would allow her to look after patients on a long-term basis. She says, “In my career—I get to look after people as they graduate from high school, first jobs, university, marriages and beyond.”
For Dr. Leung, the “beyond” now covers pregnancy and childbirth for women with IBD, a group that makes up a large part of her practice. She says that for many women of childbearing age with IBD, the prospect of pregnancy can be daunting. Dr. Leung is eager to help educate these women that in general, pregnancy is a safe and achievable option.
She knows this because she has been researching pregnancy and IBD for more than a decade. Dr. Leung explains that with the uptake in biologic treatments, and the associated vast improvement of quality of life for many people with IBD, a need emerged to study the effects of biologics on pregnancy. She was intrigued, and with some colleagues at the University of Calgary undertook research and a clinical practice that have helped her dispel many of the myths associated with IBD and pregnancy.
In 2016 Dr. Leung brought her skills and knowledge to The IBD Centre of BC, where she started the IBD Pregnancy Clinic and Registry.
Since the clinic opened, it has helped more than 100 women with IBD deliver healthy babies. Dr. Leung is quick to share her enthusiasm about being part of a team that helps women with IBD and their families experience pregnancy and childbirth. “I feel we are making a real impact. We meet patients who have so much uncertainty. They made decisions in their head that are limiting — that they are always going to be sick, or that they can’t be a mother, or that to be a mother they have to sacrifice their health, but the reality is that all those things are untrue.”
Her passion and positivity on this topic is contagious. “The vast majority of IBD pregnancies are just like everybody else’s,” she says, adding, “I love being able to help women feel confident and reassured that they can have healthy pregnancies. It’s tremendous to be part our multidisciplinary clinic with babies being born and families being created.”
For those women, whose IBD flares during pregnancy, Dr. Leung and her team at the clinic are there to support and monitor them closely, and to help them have the healthiest pregnancies possible.