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Children with Crohn's Disease:

Crohn's disease can begin at any age and it is not unusual for the disease to develop in infancy. Fifteen percent of patients with Crohn's disease develop it before the age of 20. Recent research has suggested that second-hand smoke increases the risk of Crohn's disease for children.

Symptoms for children with Crohn's disease tends to be more pronounced than they are with adults. Some children may also have more intestinal complications, but statistically hey have fewer nonintestinal problems than adults. Diagnoses of Crohn's disease in children is often delayed, whereas ulcerative colitis is diagnosed fairly promptly because blood is often found in the stool.

Growth failure in children with Crohn's disease is a concern. Evidence suggests that the more severe the disease and the longer the time it is active, the more growth will be delayed or prevented. Use of steroids to treat Crohn's disease may play some role in delaying growth, but growth is likely to improve if the drug suppresses the disease so the child can eat better.

Drug therapy for children with Crohn's disease is similar to that of adults. Doses are adjusted to suit body weight and some drugs are avoided entirely because they can interfere with the development of tissues. Steroids are often given more frequently to children than to adults because IBD is more aggressive in children.

Extra nutrition can be provided to children by supplementing their diet with nightly feeds of a liquid diet. Some children use small feeding tubes that are slipped through the nose to the stomach so that liquid diet is fed into them at night while they sleep. A thousand or more extra kilocalories (4,183 kilojoules) can be taken in this way.

Surgery for children with IBD is the most effective way to reduce inflammation. People should not jump to the conclusion that children should immediately undergo surgery because their growth is delayed. Some children with IBD will not grow simply because they are naturally short.

Psychological effects of having IBD on children are very significant. Most children and teenagers do not want to appear different to their peers. It is natural for people to feel depressed when IBD is diagnosed or when it flares up. Whenever possible, children with IBD should be allowed to participate in normal activities. Remove unnecessary dietary restrictions, such as the need to avoid junk food. It is often desirable for the child to establish a comfortable relationship with the doctor, family, close friends, and other patients to help with the situation.

See related articles:
Crohn's Disease General Information
General Symptoms of Crohn's Disease
Crohn's Disease Diets
Crohn's Disease Treatment

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