KidsMD Health Topics

Ulcerative Colitis in Children

  • It can be very scary if your child is having recurring bouts of cramps, stomach pain and diarrhea that don’t seem to go away. These symptoms may mean that your child has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). With IBD, parts of the intestinal tract become inflamed and cause cramping, pain, bleeding and diarrhea. The good news is that once it’s diagnosed, most children with IBD respond quite well to treatment.

    Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease are the two main types of IBD. If your child has UC, the inner lining of her large intestine (also called the colon or bowel) and rectum become inflamed. It’s a chronic—but highly manageable—disease

    • While ulcerative colitis can occur at any age, even in early childhood, it often has its onset in older children and young adults.
    • It affects males and females equally often and appears to run in some families.
    • A case of UC may be mild, severe or anywhere in between.
    • A cure has yet to be found, but UC can often be controlled very well with medication and lifestyle changes.
    • For patients who don’t respond to medication, surgery is often an excellent option.

    Watch Growing up with Ulcerative Colitis – What Every Family Should Know, a series of short videos to learn all about UC.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches ulcerative colitis

    Children and teenagers with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have a wide variety of needs that may include management of their medications; nutritional counseling; careful monitoring of their growth and development; surgical care and psychological support. Here at Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of children with IBD. Our experienced team of physicians, nurses, dieticians and other professionals sees around 2,500 children each year, and our work is guided by our belief that children and young adults with IBD deserve to live a happy and unhindered life. We care for children in Boston and in our many locations in Massachusetts.

    As a leading referral center for pediatric IBD, our Center is committed to discovering the causes of, and improving the treatments for, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. 


    Ulcerative colitis: Reviewed by Athos Bousvaros, MD, MPH
    © Children’s Hospital Boston, posted in 2011

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