World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Day aims to raise awareness about this chronic disease that produces inflammation or swelling in the intestines without evidence of infection. Pediatric IBD is a subset of IBD that affects children under six years of age, and it is usually aggressive, often has a genetic basis, and may require specialized treatments. Symptoms of IBD in children can include intestinal pain, loose stools containing blood and mucus, open rectal bleeding, failure to gain enough weight over time, intermittent fever, weight loss, and joint pain or swelling. Diagnosis of IBD in children requires a careful study of the family and child’s health history, physical examination, blood tests, stool tests, imaging studies, endoscopy, and biopsy.
Challenges with IBD in pediatric patients include the long-term negative impacts on growth, development, psycho-social functioning, and general well-being. Although IBD can be brought on by immune system, genetic, and environmental factors, diagnosis is difficult in the pediatric age group due to the nature of the tests required for diagnosis and lack of resources in the field. Treatment of IBD in children aims to promote healthy growth and puberty, reduce symptoms, manage eating concerns, and reduce inflammation, with medication being the primary form of treatment. Nutrition and vaccination are also critical components of proper management of the condition.
Prompt diagnosis and compliance with treatment are crucial issues associated with IBD in children. Nutritional counseling is valuable to dietary restrictions that may help to alleviate symptoms, such as avoiding fast foods, fatty, and greasy foods. Vaccines are essential for protecting young children from infectious diseases such as chicken pox and measles. However, children with IBD who are on immunosuppressive therapy should not receive live virus vaccines.
To improve the quality of life and avoid complications, IBD should be managed early, including early diagnosis and prompt medication. With proper treatment, a child can enjoy long symptom-free periods.
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