Pediatric Gastroenterology

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Small girl getting an abdominal exam

Pediatric inflammatory bowel disease includes a group of chronic diseases that cause inflammation, and therefore pain and swelling to the small intestine and colon. In some cases, it can be hard to know what type of IBD a child has, especially if they are under the age of 5. This may lead a doctor to diagnose a child with pediatric IBD Unknown.

IBD affects children differently than it does adults. Children have different symptoms, one of the most important of these symptoms being the inability for a child to grow, due to lack of proper nutrition. Because nutrition is such a vital part of childhood with a lasting impact on growth, if a child is malnourished and not consuming enough calories and nutrients, their growth and development will be halted. It is crucial to recognize IBD in children early and treat it properly so the child's growth is able to return to normal.

Pediatric inflammatory bowel disease is something that is not only uncomfortable for children, but also for their caretakers. While about a million Americans live with IBD, about 25% of them are diagnosed in or before their teenage years. There are a few types of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis, and eosinophilic colitis.

Pediatric Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This disease can have negative effects anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from the beginning to end. In children, however, it most frequently is located in the large intestine.

Crohn's disease causes inflammation, infection, and scarring in the GI tract, leading to problems with other organs such as the skin, bones, eyes, and liver. Crohn's disease may lead to small tunnels emerging from the intestine, connecting to other parts of the intestine, causing other medical problems. Crohn's can also lead to secondary health issues such as small tears in the rectum called anal fissures, as well as infections in and around the anus.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

Ulcerative colitis has similar effects as Crohn's disease, but it is different in the sense that it is a combination of inflammation and ulceration in the colon only, which causes abdominal pain and diarrhea.

UC is due to an abnormal immune system response. The immune system typically protects the body from infections. The immune system of people with UC mistakes food and bacteria entering the colon as an invasive, foreign substance, sending white blood cells into the colon's lining, producing chronic inflammation and ulcers.

While Crohn's disease may affect any part of the GI tract, ulcerative colitis can only affect the colon. In addition, Crohn's disease may affect any layer of the bowel wall, while ulcerative colitis can only affect the colon's lining.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE)

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is the chronic inflammation of the esophagus. This is caused by food allergies, which are commonly found in children. EOE causes white blood cells to rush to the esophagus in response to what the body believes are foreign invaders. This inflammation can cause several symptoms such as stomach pain, acid reflux, and swallowing problems.

The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not known, but it is suspected that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the presence of this disease. This disease can be managed in children with medications and other lifestyle changes. It is important to note that inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome are different, in the sense that IBS is less severe.