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In honor of National Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, we are answering questions about the common and treatable conditions known as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively, Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD).
Our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center treats approximately 1,500 children, adolescents and young adults each year and is committed to increasing IBD awareness.
Over 80,000 children in the U.S. are managing inflammatory bowel disease.
It’s not surprising that these two conditions are often confused. Inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome affect the gastrointestinal tract. However, these conditions have distinct differences including:
While Crohn’s and colitis can be serious, these conditions can be controlled. With proper medical treatment, most children and adults with IBD lead fairly normal lives.
Research shows genetics, immunity and environmental factors can contribute to IBD. Our scientists are working to determine exactly how the immune system and gene-environment triggers impact IBD. Learn more about Boston Children’s research.
Infants and toddlers with Very Early Onset (VEO) IBD tend to have severe inflammation of the intestine, usually causing bloody diarrhea, wrenching abdominal pain and stunted growth. Early onset IBD is rare, but its incidence is increasing by about 5 percent per year in some parts of the world.
Childhood and adolescence is a time of growth, development, and maturity. While being a teenager is tough, being a teenager with inflammatory bowel disease can be even more challenging. Poorly controlled inflammatory bowel disease can affect growth, nutrition, energy, and ability to participate in school. This makes getting the appropriate medical care essential.
- Dr. Scott Snapper, Director of Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center
IBD can be an embarrassing disease. Intestinal pain, frequent or unpredictable bowel movements, diet changes and medication management can impact a child’s self-esteem and quality of life. Our expert team of clinicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and nutritionists understand these challenges and support their young patients every step of the way.
When you hear “IBD,” many think stomach pain, diarrhea and sudden urges to go the bathroom. But did you know Crohn’s disease can exist outside the intestinal tract? In rare cases, Crohn’s can start in the mouth and esophagus and can cause canker sores and sometimes cavities. Crohn’s can also affect any region of the digestive tract including the stomach, duodenum, appendix, colon or anus. The most common area to be affected is the last part of the small intestine.
Sometimes surgery is recommended for patients with IBD. However, the vast majority of patients control their disease with medication.
If a child’s inflammatory bowel disease is under control and in full remission, most children with IBD can live a full, normal life; participate in school, athletics and travel. Read our IBD Patient Stories.
Learn more about Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and our approach to care.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”