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Why Are Inflammatory Bowel Diseases In Very Young Canadian Children Increasing?

Sooo.....what is going on here? Why are very early onset (5 years and younger) pediatric inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in children increasing so rapidly in Canada? Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. In the last two decades there has been an increase of 7.2% per year- to the point that it is among the highest in the world (9.68 per 100,000 children). Only Norway has a similar incidence (10.6 per 100,000 children under the age of 16 years), with Sweden having an incidence  of 12.8 per 100,000. Research studies find that the microbial communities are out of whack (dysbiosis) in IBD.

But why is the rate of IBD increasing in these northern countries? The researchers mention that rates are also increasing in the northern states in the US. Currently the reasons for the higher rates in Canadian and northern European children are not known. Some environmental factors such as lack of sunlight exposure and high rates of vitamin D deficiency, antibiotic use, and diet have been hypothesized as contributing to the pediatric IBD increase. Stay tuned... From Science Daily:

Inflammatory bowel diseases on the rise in very young Canadian children

Canada has amongst the highest rates of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the world, and the number of children under five years old being diagnosed increased by 7.2 per cent every year between 1999 to 2010, according to a new study by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute and the Canadian Gastro-Intestinal Epidemiology Consortium.

"The number of children under five being diagnosed with IBD is alarming because it was almost unheard of 20 years ago, and it is now much more common," says Dr. Eric Benchimol, lead author of the study, scientist at ICES and a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Inflammatory Bowel Disease Centre, in Ottawa. IBD primarily includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which are lifelong conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, leading to chronic diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pains and weight loss.

Researchers say a change in the bacterial composition of the gut may be to blame for the increase in IBD cases but they don't know what is causing the change. They suspect a combination of environmental risk factors could be to blame, such as early life exposure to antibiotics, diet, or lower levels of Vitamin D in Canadians.

The researchers found that the incidence of IBD has stabilized in children over the age of five, but in children under five it continues to rise rapidly. The researchers estimate that approximately 600 to 650 children are diagnosed with IBD every year in Canada. [Original study.]

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