Researchers in Canada observed an increase in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in young children between 1994 and 2009. The youngest IBD patients, however, do not require as much treatment as older children. These findings were published in the journal Gastroenterology.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are conditions involving chronic or recurring and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that’s the result of an abnormal immune response. The two most common forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of IBD include diarrhea, abdominal pain, infections, and bleeding. When IBD develops in children younger than age 10, it’s considered very early onset inflammatory bowel disease (VEO-IBD).
Researchers in Canada recently investigated differences in incidence and outcomes between VEO-IBD and IBD that develops in older children. They used records from all children diagnosed with IBD in Ontario, Canada, from 1994 through 2009.
To assess childhood IBD incidence and outcomes, the researchers compared treatment measures between children younger than age six, children age six to 10, and children 10 and older. All children in the study had been diagnosed with IBD. Treatment measures included outpatient and emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and surgeries.
Overall incidence of IBD in children increased between 1994 and 2009—from 9.4 per 100,000 children to 13.2 per 100,000 children. The biggest increase involved children younger than six and between ages six and 10 (VEO-IBD), with a rise of 7.4% per year. This was followed by an increase of 2.2% in children 10 and older. Children younger than six received less frequent outpatient medical treatment for IBD than those 10 and older. Children younger than six were also hospitalized less frequently and had lower rates of surgery.
Though the incidence of VEO-IBD increased from 1994 through 2009, children who were diagnosed before age six appeared to receive less medical treatment, including surgery, than children diagnosed at age 10 or older. This suggests that VEO-IBD affects patients differently than IBD diagnosed after age 10 and may warrant further research into features that distinguish VEO-IBD from later diagnoses.
Reference: Benchimol EI, Mack DR, Nguyen GC, et al. Incidence, Outcomes, and Health Services Burden of Very Early Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology. October 2014 Volume 147, Issue 4.