When a child is diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the first step is understanding that these diseases are chronic but also treatable. Inflammatory bowel diseases, which include Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and often Indeterminate Colitis. Though it is not yet know what causes this inflammation, genetic predisposition, microbiome (bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract, and environmental components are believed to play an important role in the development of IBD.
Fortunately, long-term treatment and tailored medical therapies can help most children diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases go on to live healthy and normal lives.
Did you know…
that pediatric IBD occurs equally in both boys and girls? Currently, approximately 1 in 100,000 children develop the disease, many of whom have a family history of Inflammatory bowel disease. Of the 1.6 million people who suffer with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the U.S., 1 in 5 of them is a pediatric patient under the age 18.
At WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology we see children with a wide range of symptoms caused by Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Symptoms vary depending on the type of IBD. For example, while Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar, they are not the same. Both cause abdominal pain, loose and often bloody stools and weight loss. However, ulcerative colitis is more likely to cause persistent bloody fecal matter where Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract from mouth to anus. Differentiating between diseases is based on tissue pathology, disease distribution and radiological studies and can guide therapeutic choices and interventions.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases can interfere with appetite and the absorption of nutrients, stunting bone growth and delaying the onset of puberty. Some children may also experience complications of IBD or co-occurring symptoms outside the digestive tract. Examples include eye problems, brittle bones, painful and swollen joints, skin diseases, kidney stones and liver inflammation. Not all children with IBD will develop complications in fact, many complications can be avoided when steps are taken to maintain disease in remission.
Your child’s pediatric gastroenterologist will confirm a diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease with a combination of physical exam, medical history, blood and stool testing, imaging scans and tissue pathology from endoscopy and/or colonoscopy. Often children or adults will require video capsule endoscopy that can be done in the office to delineate disease severity and distribution. IBD is a chronic condition, but treatments are available to achieve and maintain long periods of remission. These may include prescription drugs therapies designed to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune activity, nutritional/supplement therapy to facilitate better healing, growth and development as well as use of probiotics and prebiotics to optimize gastrointestinal health. In some cases, particularly when conservative treatment measures have failed, surgery may be necessary to minimize symptoms and improve the quality of life.