Kids Diagnosed With IBD Likely to Find Success as Adults: Study

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
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Children comprise as many as 100, 000 of the cases of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in the United States.  An estimated 25 percent of all cases of IBD are diagnosed in childhood. Parents of children that are newly diagnosed with IBD are often full of questions. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website notes that some common questions focus on the treatments available, wanting to know what causes the disease, whether their child will need surgery and what lifestyle changes should be made.

Many of the symptoms children with IBD experience, meanwhile, are similar to those seen in their adult counterparts: diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, urgency to defecate, intestinal bleeding fever and weight loss.  Issues specific to children may include delayed growth and sexual maturation.

What had not been studied _until now_was whether or not the stress of dealing with this chronic illness -- including missing days of school and embarrassing social implications -- takes a toll on a child’s achievement levels.  A new cross-sectional study aimed to look at these issues more closely. Researchers were hopeful that the findings would shed some light on the long-term impacts, if any, of IBD on a child's future health and lifestyle.

The study, "Education, Employment, Income, and Marital Status Among Adults Diagnosed With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases During Childhood or Adolescence,” looked at adolescent diagnosis between January 1978 and December 2007 at the Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic at Children's Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Researchers followed 112 patients at the clinic for an average of just over 14 years.  The IBD patients were compared to healthy controls in the areas of education attained, employment, and marital status.

The study found that rather than being held back in life due to chronic illness, patients in the study earned more money per year [than their peers] and were more likely to get an advanced degree.  Researchers did not find any statistical difference with regard to marital status and employment between the study group and the control group.

What this means for a nervous parent is that they can rest easy knowing that their IBD child can succeed and even excel as adults. With help from parents and teachers, and with perseverance, these children can be their best despite their illness.

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Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition.She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years.Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).