Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a term used to describe conditions that cause inflammation in the GI tract, with it mainly referring to conditions such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD is different from IBS, which is a more common condition that impacts the digestive system but for which inflammation is not present. Although most information surrounding IBD is aimed at adults, children can also be affected by this chronic condition. This article will answer some of the most popular and common questions asked relating to IBD and children.
1. Can a child be diagnosed with IBD?
Yes, a child can be diagnosed with IBD. Although it is uncommon for children under 5, the likelihood increases as one gets older. Although most resources that are available for IBD are created with an adult in mind, there are many resources available to help children with IBD as well as their parent deal with a diagnosis and the condition itself.
2. What are symptoms of IBD in children?
The symptoms of IBD in children are not that different from the symptoms adults experience. Some common symptoms of IBD in children include:
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Blood in stool
3. How is a child diagnosed with IBD?
If a child is presenting symptoms of IBD, it is important that they are taken to see their GP. They will be asked a variety of questions and then if IBD is suspected, a variety of tests may be performed. These initial tests are usually non-invasive, ranging from blood tests, stool tests, x-rays among others. It is possible that a doctor would perform an endoscopy or colonoscopy depending on the child’s specific situation.
4. Can a child grow out of IBD?
Unfortunately IBD is not a curable condition. However, with the right medication and/or treatment, IBD is a manageable condition and it is possible there will be long periods of time where one is symptomless. Normally, IBD includes periods of flare and remission, with the goal of treatment by your doctor to be to extend periods of remission and make them the norm, so that flares become a rare occurrence.
5. Will my child have IBD if I have it?
As a parent with IBD, it is not a given that your child will also have the condition. Although studies have shown that having IBD can predispose your child to having IBD, the risk is quite low. If you have any concerns about your child and any worrying symptoms they may have, contact your GP as soon as possible.
6. What treatments would children be given to manage their IBD?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating IBD, however there are a few different treatments that are likely to work for those living with the condition. A patient may benefit from one or more of these treatments when trying to manage their symptoms and reduce flares.
For children, the main types of treatments are:
- Specific diet (usually liquid)
A clinician will be able to help a family decide the best treatment plan for a child’s IBD. This may involve some trial and error, however the ultimate goal is to get onto a treatment plan that provides relief of symptoms and leads to a state of remission with rare instances of flare in the future.
Some helpful IBD resources:
- Common Questions About Living with IBD
- Crohn’s and Colitis: Impact on Life Expectancy and Quality of Life
- Amy’s Journey with IBD
- What you Need to Know About Calprotectin and Testing for IBD
- World IBD Day