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What are the treatments for Crohn’s disease in children?
Crohn’s, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, is very treatable. With consistent health care and a good understanding of the condition, the vast majority of people with IBD go on to live full and active lives. You and your child are in excellent hands at Boston Children's Hospital.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, treating Crohn's disease (CD) often requires a combination of approaches, especially at first:
1. First diagnosed
Most of the time, children are having severe symptoms when they are first diagnosed. If your child feels unwell, the first thing we will do is get her symptoms under control as quickly as possible.
To do this, we give your child a short course of very powerful medications (typically steroids) known as induction agents. Most children begin to feel better in anywhere from a few days to a week or two.
During this time, you and your child will meet with members of your child's IBD team, all of whom have expertise in working with children with IBD and their families. Besides your child's primary gastroenterologist, you may talk with:
2. Managing Crohn's disease
Once your child's symptoms have subsided, we'll start her on a course of maintenance medicine. Anti-inflammatory medications may help with abdominal pain and diarrhea, and if your child has a more severe case of IBD, we may prescribe more steroids, antibiotics, or drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants). It may take a while to figure out which medications work the best for your child. While CD is a lifelong condition, our goal is to keep it in remission for as long as possible – meaning a “normal” life for your child, with few to no symptoms.
Every case of CD is unique, and every child responds to medication differently, which is why we create a customized treatment plan for each of our patients.
While CD is a lifelong condition, our goal is to keep it in remission for as long as possible, meaning a “normal” life for your child, with few to no symptoms.
3. Dealing with Flare-ups
Flare-ups are when your child again begins to experience symptoms of IBD, or feeling especially tired and unwell. If this happens, it's a good idea to check with your child's primary care doctor, who can refer you to us at Children's if need be.
If your child is having a flare-up, we'll treat it with rescue medicines – a short course of strong medications. We'll also monitor her closely to determine what may have caused it and whether any changes should be made to her treatment plan.
What are common medications for Crohn’s disease?
This is a brief summary of some of the medications used for inflammatory bowel diseases. Please discuss specific medications—and your child's individual situation—with your doctor.
Lifelong follow-up is crucial with IBD, since it allows your child's doctors to:
We also recommend bone scans (to monitor bone density and prevent bone weakening) and eye exams.
How often will my child with Crohn’s need follow-up appointments?
This depends on your child, her treatment plan and how she is feeling. If your child is doing very well and experiencing few to no symptoms, your child's doctor may want to see her every six months. If your child is on immunosuppressant medications, there's a higher risk of complications, and we'd like to see her every three months. If your child is not feeling well, she should come in every four weeks or so.
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.”