Up-to-Date Information for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is an umbrella term used to describe chronic inflammation of the digestive tract that affects up to 250,000 children and adolescents across the U.S. Two main forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Up to 20 percent of patients with IBD may also experience irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a condition that affects how the muscles contract in the intestines, but they are not the same disease.
Understanding your Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis
IBD is not only an uncomfortable and painful disease, it also can affect your child’s growth and development if left untreated. In ulcerative colitis, inflammation in the small intestines or colon can lead to painful ulcers that interfere with digestion. In Crohn’s disease, this inflammation can occur anywhere between the mouth and rectum. Like many other conditions, catching and treating inflammatory bowel disease in children as early as possible will help minimize structural damage to the digestive tract and help children live as normally as possible.
Even though the cause of IBD is still unknown, we have many inflammatory bowel disease treatments available to help your child lead a healthy, active life. Our goal of our pediatric GI and IBD specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s is to make sure our patients not only feel better but are treated appropriately and able to manage their disease for life. Our team of pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse educators, dietitians, social workers and psychologists use the latest, evidence-based alternative therapies and medical treatments.
Higher Standard of Care Through Advanced, Evidence-Based Therapies and Treatments
Because we are part of a large teaching academic medical center, we have access to innovative treatments including biologics and nutrition therapy as well traditional anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, advanced immunomodulators and antibiotics.
Biologics are medications that directly target an inflamed area helping the patient heal. Biologic therapies can greatly improve your child’s quality of life and help them avoid surgery. Through genetic testing, we’re often able to tailor treatment specifically to their needs making therapies more effective.
We also provide nutritional therapy to help bring about remission. Studies have shown that nutritional therapy is as effective as steroids in controlling inflammation. When on a nutritional therapy program, children drink shakes for most, if not all of their meals, sometimes supplementing with small amounts of solid food for eight to 12 weeks. This enables us to combat inflammation while addressing growth and nutritional deficiencies that are commonly present when a child or adolescent is first diagnosed with IBD.
As members of the ImproveCareNow Network, a national quality improvement consortium, we collaborate with other IBD care centers, which enables us to identify and introduce new best practices in the treatment of IBD. And as an academic medical center, we also actively advance the health and wellbeing of children living with IBD through ongoing research and clinical trials that will become tomorrow’s standard of care.
The most common inflammatory bowel disease symptoms are abdominal pain and cramping, frequent or urgent bowel movements, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, delayed growth, joint pain and fatigue. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to see a digestive health specialist as soon as possible to prevent structural damage to their bowels.
At UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s, we first conduct a thorough physical exam and discuss the patient’s health history. Next, we conduct a series of tests, most often including blood tests, stool samples and advanced endoscopic and other imaging techniques to more accurately diagnose and assess disease location and severity.
Educating Children and Families on IBD Self-Management
Treating patients at the IBD Clinic is important; however, children and their families being able to manage IBD every day at home is just as important.
At the IBD Clinic, we work with children and their families to teach the necessary skills to manage their disease. This includes education on nutrition, how to take medications and make lifestyle choices to live a healthy, high quality of life with IBD.
We also recommend the following resources:
- An Educational Guide for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
- GI Kids
- Just Like Me! Teens with IBD
Transitioning Older Children at Our IBD Transition Clinic
Making the transition from pediatric to adult care is a big step for IBD patients. To make this transition as successful as possible, we start teaching patients how to take care of themselves and manage their disease and therapies when they reach 11 years old.
When the time comes to make the transition, our IBD transition team, in collaboration with the adult GI team at University Hospitals, helps patients navigate the process smoothly, so they are able to seamlessly continue their treatment plans.
Northeast Ohio’s Only Second Opinion IBD Clinic
Navigating a new IBD diagnosis for your child can be challenging. At UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s, we have developed the only Second Opinion IBD Clinic of its kind in northeast Ohio to be your second clinical opinion.
Our multidisciplinary team will thoroughly review your child’s medical plan, including current medications, blood tests, scans and scopes, without unnecessarily repeating tests - to save you time and money. We’ll provide you with a medical summary, education, social work, nutritional therapy and support from a psychologist. This support, in addition to evidence-based recommendations, will help you manage your son or daughter’s IBD. We’ll also help you work with your school to ensure your child has appropriate accommodations needed.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please call 216-844-1765. Prior to your appointment, you’ll be asked to fax your child’s records to 216-844-8750. An appointment at our Second Opinion IBD Clinic lasts about an hour, but the outcomes could mean a world of difference.