What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn's disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease is characterized by a chronic inflammatory process most commonly affecting the end of the small bowel (terminal ileum) and colon. It may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus, extending through one or more layers of the intestinal wall. Crohn’s disease may appear in “patches,” affecting one area of the GI tract and not the next.
In Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory reaction targets the body’s healthy cells, thus signaling the body’s immune system to attack them. This results in inflammation that can significantly affect a child’s quality of life.
The prevalence of Crohn's disease appears to be increasing, particularly in Western Europe and North America, and it may affect as many as 780,000 Americans. Crohn’s disease is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-35, affecting males and females equally; however, this disease is becoming more common in younger children.
Why Choose Us?
The Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the largest centers of its kind in the United States. Significant breakthroughs in the treatment of IBD have happened right here.
Treatment for Crohn's disease
The treatment for Crohn’s disease is complex and may be different for every child, but the main goals are the same: to relieve symptoms, prevent flares, promote growth and nutrition, and achieve mucosal healing (healing of the intestine) and remission. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for Crohn’s disease, and children respond to therapy differently. Using a combination of medication, nutritional therapy, and in more severe cases, surgery, the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease team aims to promote each child’s quality of life and accomplish all of their goals or aspirations.
Primary treatment for Crohn’s disease includes medications. Those most often used in the treatment of Crohn’s disease are 5-aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, antibiotics, and medications that alter the immune system, called immunomodulators or biologics.
Diet plays a big role in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. It is essential to maintain good nutrition because it helps the body to heal and grow. Weight loss is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease, and weight gain is a goal of treatment. Research supports the role of nutrition in treatment for Crohn’s disease. There is not one specific diet for Crohn’s disease, but there are foods that should be avoided, like popcorn, because they can have difficulty passing through an inflamed, narrow area of bowel. Our IBD dietitians will work closely with families to provide nutritional support.
Even with proper medication and diet, some children require surgery to attain the best possible quality of life. The decision to proceed with surgery is made in collaboration between the child and family, the gastroenterologist, and the surgeon specializing in IBD. Surgery is used to relieve severe, ongoing symptoms and to help children achieve growth and weight gain when medical management is no longer effective on its own.