Adults diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in childhood appear to achieve higher education levels compared to those without the disease, new research shows. The finding should offer hope to children with IBD and their parents.
The study, “Education, Employment, Income, and Marital Status Among Adults Diagnosed With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases During Childhood or Adolescence,” was published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
IBD is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. Canada is one of the countries with the highest prevalence and incidence rates of IBD, and 25 percent of patients are children and adolescents.
When IBD is diagnosed early in life, those affected with the condition suffer a significant impact on their physical, emotional, and social development. It would be expected that IBD patients may not attain higher education levels or employment status when compared to those without the condition.
“The anxiety associated with a new diagnosis of IBD is significant to both children and their parents,” Dr. Wael El-Matary, MD, from the section of pediatric gastroenterology in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba in Canada, and the study’s lead author, said in a news release.
“We hope our findings reassure families dealing with this diagnosis. Knowing that long-term educational levels attained, occupation and marital status are not worse compared to those without IBD will significantly help in alleviating a great part of this anxiety,” El-Matary said.
El-Matary and colleagues conducted a survey to assess the levels of education, employment, and marital status of adults diagnosed with IBD during childhood or adolescence. Patients were identified from January 1978 to December 2007 at the Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic at Children’s Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba. The results were compared with a group of age-matched healthy control subjects.
All participants taking part in the study (NCT02152241) were followed for a mean duration of 14.3 years. The results showed that IBD patients are more likely to earn more money per year than their healthy counterparts. In addition, compared to controls, more IBD patients went on to receive post-high school educations.
“IBD is not an easy diagnosis. We recognize that it may take several years for patients to find a treatment regimen that works best for their disease, hence why we decided to revisit patients many years after their initial diagnosis when they, hopefully, are following a stable and effective treatment plan. What we found was hope at the end of the tunnel,” El-Matary said.