Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children
What is inflammatory bowel disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a long-term (chronic) condition, which is further
separated into Crohn's disease or Ulcerative colitis. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate
between Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis, leading to a diagnosis of indeterminate
Researchers believe that IBD is caused by a combination of several factors. Certain
susceptibility genes have already been identified for IBD. Most IBD researchers believe
that something in the environment (such as a virus) triggers an inflammatory response
in the gut. In people who may not have the genetic predisposition, this inflammatory
response is self-limited, meaning it resolves on its own. However, in people with
IBD, there is genetic influence that maintains the inflammatory response.
IBD can affect parts of the body outside of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the
skin, joint, eyes, or the liver.
IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
What are the symptoms of IBD?
Symptoms can appear at any range, and depending on the type of IBD, symptoms can vary.
In general, children with IBD can present with:
- Diarrhea, sometimes with blood
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Unexplained fever or tiredness
- Delayed growth
- Delayed puberty
For further information on specific types of IBD, please visit the appropriate topics.
General Health Care Management
Children with IBD should receive regularly scheduled vaccinations to help prevent
infection, with the exception of live vaccines such as MMR (measles/mumps/rubella),
Varicella (chicken pox), and the nasal form of the influenza vaccine.
Medications used in the treatment of IBD may suppress the immune system, so it is
important to let your children's healthcare provider know about any medication.
University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Division