Researchers have found that the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in developing countries is likely to rise over the next several years.
One of the study co-authors, Siew Ng, PhD, commented in a press release written by Genevieve Juillet, “As newly industrialized countries become more westernized, we can clearly see that the incidence of IBD is also rapidly rising.”
Ulcerative colitis was first identified in 1875 and Crohn’s disease was identified in 1932. Since then, the incidence of these two diseases have dramatically increased in the western world. The high prevalence of IBD over the past decade indicates that it is an emerging public health challenge. However, little is known about the prevalence of IBD in developing countries.
Ng and colleague Gilaad Kaplan, MD, searched the literature for population studies that reported incidence or prevalence of IBDs, including ulceritis colitis and Crohn’s disease, between 1990 and 2016.
They discovered some interesting trends. In the early to late 20th century, incidence of IBD rose sharply in western countries. However, since 1990, incidence rates have either stabilized or declined in these parts of the world. Despite this plateau in incidence, the prevalence of the disease is still high. Up to 0.3 percent of the population in western countries including North America, Oceania, and most countries in Europe suffer from IBD.
By contrast, in newly industrialised countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, where societies are becoming more westernized, the progression and rising numbers of inflammatory bowel diseases is starting to mirror what was seen in the 1900s for the western world. “Our research shows that countries outside the western world now appear to be in the first stage of this sequence,” Kaplan said.
The authors suggest that we have not yet seen the peak of incidence in these developing countries and that IBD will become a global problem. In the press release, Kaplan said “Globally, we need to prepare our clinical infrastructure and personnel to manage this complex and costly disease.”
Future research should focus on a better understanding of the environmental risk factors associated with industrialization and the development of IBDs, the study authors wrote.