Pediatric IBD Program Helps Children Cope with Disease

Pediatric IBD Program Helps Children Cope with Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is one of the main focuses at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, part of a national network that works to improve treatment for pediatric IBD patients. The program includes a multidisciplinary team composed of doctors, nutrition specialists, as well as psychologists and social professionals to help children with IBD cope with the challenges of living with the disease. Doctors note that when a child presents frequent stomach aches (occurring for more than a few weeks) and are accompanied by additional symptoms and bloody stools they are probably caused by IBD. The disease includes a group of syndromes characterized by chronic inflammation, particularly of the colon and small intestine. The two main types of IBD are Crohn's disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). In children, Crohn's disease commonly leads to impaired child growth and weight gain. The diagnosis usually includes children experiencing painful stomach aches with occurrences of diarrhea or bloody stools. Dr. Marc Schaefer, a pediatric gastroenterologist specializing in IBD at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital noted in a press release, “Growth charts are one of the most important things we look at with children because sometimes a slower growth rate is the only sign of IBD, especially with Crohn’s disease,” aided by blood tests and endoscopy to accurately diagnose children with Crohn’s disease. While the etiology of IBD is unknown, both environmental and genetic factors are known to play a role in disease development, increasing chances of children carrying the disease if IBD runs in the family. However, disease occurrence as well as severity is variable within families, with the occurrence of long asymptomatic periods followed by sporad
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