WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES IN ADULT AND PEDIATRIC (CHILDHOOD) IBD?
Approximately 25% of patients with Crohn's disease begin their disease when they are 20 years old or younger and perhaps 10 – 15% of patients develop their ulcerative colitis (UC) at that same age. While Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis occur just as often in adults, Crohn's disease is nearly 2 times as common in children.
When children under 8 years of age develop either of these diseases, it is often in the large intestine, whether it's Crohn's disease or UC.
Of particular note, IBD in children (pediatric IBD) tends to be more severe and in ulcerative colitis, more of the large intestine may be inflamed.
Growth can be affected in approximately 25% of children with Crohn's disease, particularly those with moderate to severe disease. Even in children with mild disease, the use of steroids decreases their growth rate by 1/3; and those with more severe disease have almost no growth while on steroids.
IBD can also cause problems in other organs like the eye and the liver, but the pattern is different in children and adults.
And of course, there are numerous differences in how adults and children deal with their disease emotionally. When a child misses school, social events and their friends, it's clearly different than an adult missing work and the other aspects of their lives. When a child has to undergo a simple blood test or a colonoscopy, their response differs from an adult, related in part to the child's age, their emotional maturity and their parents' support.
This article, as well as all others, was reviewed and edited by a member of our Medical Advisory Board.
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