Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are the most frequent chronic gastrointestinal disorders in pediatric age. They include two disease entities – Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) – which, although different in their pathogenesis, show common clinical characteristics such as chronic inflammation at different levels of the gastrointestinal tract and alternation between active and inactive phases. The incidence of IBD is increasing in recent years, particularly among children and adolescents, and it is currently estimated that 20–30 % of patients with IBD experience the onset of symptoms when they are under 20 years of age [1–3]. In childhood, IBDs are gener- ally more extended, more severe, and progress more rapidly than in adulthood. Moreover, therapy in children with IBD is more aggressive than in adults: Indeed, about 80 % of children need steroids, and about 30 % are subjected to an intestinal resection during a 5-year follow-up. Quality of life is severely affected in IBD, espe- cially for pediatric patients, owing to the chronic character of the disease that implies frequent hospitalizations and aggressive therapies, with a significant risk of side effects and a considerable impact on health care costs. IBD can result in loss of education and difficulty in gaining employment or insurance; overall, 15 % of patients with IBD are unable to work after 5–10 years of disease. Depressive disorders and low social func- tioning are also common among these patients, and the disease can also cause growth failure or retarded sexual development in young people [4–7]. It was recently reported that the mean individual annual costs in European countries amount to US$6,000 for CD and $4,600 for UC, and pediatric cases cost even more than adult ones .
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