April 18, 2017 5:13 pm

Rates of Crohn’s disease, colitis rising among Canadian children under 5

WATCH ABOVE: New research has found more kids are being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and colitis. Usually these diseases first strike teens and young adults but as Heather Yourex-West reports, more and more diagnoses are being made among children under 5.


New research has revealed that pediatric cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are rising in Canada, particularly among children under the age of 5.

“It used to be unheard of to see a child under five years old.  It was very, very rare 20 years ago, but now we’re seeing it more often,” said Dr. Eric Benchimol, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

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The study looked at data from five Canadian provinces — including Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec — tracking the number of children under 16 years of age who had been been diagnosed with IBD between 1999 and 2010.

Overall, the number of children under 16 living with IBD in Canada rose from 29 per 100,0000 in 1999, to 46 per 100, 000 in 2008 — an increase of almost 60 per cent.

New cases in children under the age of five increased the most, at a rate of about 7.2 per cent per year.

READ MORE: Food poisoning may be linked to higher risk of Crohn’s diesase

“We know that early life exposure to environmental risk factors – things like early antibiotics use, living in a city, potentially lack of sunlight exposure, potentially some dietary changes – seems to increase the risk of developing IBD,” said Benchimol.

According to Benchimol, though, there is some good news — kids who are diagnosed with IBD early in life tend to respond better to treatments and require surgery less often.

Thirteen-year-old Matthew O’Halloran of Brockville, Ont. has lived with IBD since he was just a toddler. His mother first noticed blood in his diapers shortly before his second birthday. Tests eventually revealed O’Halloran was suffering from Crohn’s disease.
As a young child, he says he had to be more careful about what he ate, and remembers having to use the bathroom more frequently than his friends.
“At birthday parties, I had to skip out sometimes on cake or pizza and sometimes people would ask, ‘why are you in the bathroom for so long?'” O’Halloran said.
O’Halloran’s mom, Jennifer Klatt says it took doctors about five years to find a treatment plan that her son responded well to.  Today, he visits the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario every six weeks to received medication intravenously, and his disease is in remission.
“He has few symptoms now and very few flare ups,” Klatt said.

According to the research institute at the hospital, Canada has some of the highest rates of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease in the world, affecting an estimated 3,000 kids under the age of 16

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