Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in Children and Teens

Children with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or indeterminate colitis are treated at Duke by a team of experts who collaborate to treat all forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We work with you and your child to reduce or eliminate symptoms and to ensure proper nutrition so that your child has healthy growth and can take part in everyday activities.

Diagnosing Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children

Inflammatory bowel disease is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the small intestine, colon (large intestine), stomach, and other areas of the digestive tract. Symptoms can vary and may include frequent stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, and weight loss.

It is important to get an accurate diagnosis for your child, as treatments can differ for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative/indeterminate colitis. Making a diagnosis is like putting together a puzzle. Different pieces -- symptoms, lab work, imaging tests -- help us build a complete picture of your child’s IBD.

We first evaluate your child’s symptoms and perform a physical exam. If inflammatory bowel disease is suspected, your child will be tested for:

  • Anemia
  • Elevated inflammatory markers
  • Low protein levels
  • Vitamin/nutrient deficiencies (vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, zinc, iron)

Other diagnostic tests and exams include:

  • Stool samples, to rule out other conditions such as gastroenteritis
  • Upper endoscopy or colonoscopy, to check for chronic inflammation in the digestive tract
  • CT enterography, a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis with special contrast to highlight the bowel for inflammation
  • MR enterography, an MRI of the abdomen and pelvis with special contrast to highlight the bowel for inflammation

Our pediatric gastroenterologists are actively involved in research to learn more about inflammatory bowel disease. Duke Children’s is also a member of Improve Care Now, a group of more than 100 pediatric gastroenterology centers around the world dedicated to improving the care of children with IBD. 

Our team of pediatric gastroenterologists, nurses, dietitians, social workers, and mental health specialists work together to address the physical and emotional aspects of your child’s illness. 

INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE IN CHILDREN
Treatments

Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic, lifelong conditions. While there is no cure, many effective treatments are available. Most treatment plans include long-term anti-inflammatory and/or immune suppressant medication. Treatments can improve your child’s quality of life and restore his or her health.

INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE IN CHILDREN
Supportive Services

CROHN'S DISEASE AND ULCERATIVE COLITIS IN CHILDREN AND TEENS
Patient resources

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