Growth Hormone in Pediatric Crohn's Disease
The incidence of IBD is on the rise in the pediatric population. It is unclear at this time why this is the case. Researchers theorize that there could be environmental factors that are lending to the increase but there is no reason that has been able to be scientifically substantiated.
Many of these children with IBD present with growth issues or failure to thrive. Sometimes these issues are the trigger which gets a child diagnosed with IBD in the first place. When the conservative approach of disease treatment and nutrition therapies fail to correct the growth problem sometimes growth hormones are utilized. The window of time for using these types of hormones are narrow and are best addressed prior to the age of 12 years old.
Recent research done by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center showed that not only did growth hormone aid in catch up growth but it also reduced Crohn's symptoms in many of their pediatric patients. The researches found that 2/3 of the patients receiving growth hormone went into remission from their Crohn's symptoms after three months of treatment. They also received significant increases in growth after one year on the growth hormone. (1).
Unfortunately the study was very small, containing only 20 participants, so a much larger study will be needed to determine the additional functions of growth hormone in treating Crohn's disease in the pediatric population. It is definitely a promising area which will hopefully provide a clue for future treatments. Reaching and maintain remission and limiting growth issues are immensely important for children with IBD.
In the mean time parents should discuss any concerns they have about their child's growth with their doctor. Nutrition supplements and other medications to treat IBD can help to keep children from falling behind on their nutritional status. This can be key in limiting the need for playing growth "catch up" and keep our IBD kids as healthy as possible.