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Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

More than three million people in the United States, including as many as 80,000 children, are diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It is often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30.

IBD is a chronic or recurring inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. If your child has IBD, their immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine as foreign, or invading, substances. As a result, the body floods the intestines with white blood cells to fight the substances, resulting in chronic inflammation and ulcers of the intestines.


IBD symptoms, which can be mild or severe, include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • excessive gas or bloating
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Not growing and developing as well as their peers in height and puberty
  • Depression, anxiety, or stress because of a continuous illness

IBS Types

There are two primary types of inflammatory bowel disease:

Crohn’s disease is related to inflammation in the small intestine and upper part of the large intestine, although it can occur anywhere along the digestive tract

Ulcerative colitis specifically impacts the large intestine (colon and rectum) and causes both swelling and ulcers (sores).

How It’s Diagnosed & Treated

If you suspect your child has IBD, see a gastroenterologist. We will review your child’s symptoms and obtain laboratory and imaging tests to properly diagnose the problem. Doctors will also order a colonoscopy or endoscopy to look directly inside the digestive tract.

There is no cure for IBD, but there are very effective treatments. If your child is confirmed to have IBD, there are medications and in some cases diet available to reduce digestive tract inflammation, help the body properly absorb nutrients and grow. With proper treatment, most patients will go into remission and have few, if any, symptoms for long periods of time. Doctors believe that not only feeling fine, but also healing of the intestines should be the goal of the treatment. Your IBD doctor will advise regular follow up to maintain the disease under control. When medications don’t offer optimal relief, surgery is another option to remove diseased portions of the digestive tract.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, we have a nationally recognized Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center that is led by pediatric gastroenterologists who specialize in the treatment of pediatric IBD.

The multidisciplinary IBD center includes gastroenterologists, a nutritionist who can offer personalized nutritional therapy plans to children with IBD, a psychologist, a social worker, and a nurse educator.

The Center has excellent quality outcomes for the treatment of IBD, with remission rates for IBD symptoms well above national averages. SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital participates in the Improve Care Now network, a network that secures excellent care of children with IBD through collaboration and research.

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