What is inflammatory bowel disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Most cases are diagnosed prior to the age of 35, making IBD one of the most significant chronic diseases affecting children and adolescents.
The immune system works as a network of cells and tissues to defend the body from infection. In inflammatory diseases, like IBD, problems with the immune system cause the body’s antibodies and immune cells to mistake its own healthy cells as invaders. Imagine an intruder, like a cold virus, invading your body. Your immune system identifies, kills and eliminates it from your body, protecting you from illness. In an inflammatory disease the immune system sometimes responds inappropriately and the body’s healthy cells are targeted, thus signaling the body to attack them. This results in inflammation that can significantly affect a child’s quality of life.
In both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, children have periods of no symptoms (remission) alternating with periods of inflammatory symptoms (flare). Inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract occurs in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, yet there are important difference between the two diseases.
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 inflammatory bowel disease
The therapy for IBD is complex and may be different for every child. The main goals of medical treatment are to relieve symptoms, prevent flares, and achieve mucosal healing (healing of the intestine) and remission. Together, the ultimate aim is for a child to lead a normal life as possible and still be able to reach their personal goals. In order to help guide the treatment process, we are able to perform many different tests, imaging and procedures, which paint a picture of what is going on inside the body.
Treatment with medication is one therapeutic option. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for IBD. Children respond to different medications or, sometimes, a combination of medications. Children requiring intravenous infusion therapies will be seen in our state-of-the-art infusion center.
Nutritional therapy, often when used with medical treatment, is another important therapy that can include a variety of options. In order for the body to heal, a child must have good nutrition. Our IBD dietitians will work with families to provide nutritional support.
In instances when medication may not adequately control symptoms for children with IBD, or when disease complications arise, surgery may be a therapeutic option. Our surgeons who specialize in IBD are available to meet with families to guide the surgical process when necessary.
These chronic diseases can be treated, but not yet cured. As a team, we work with families to determine the best course of treatment for the child to promote the highest quality of life.