Monday, August 20, 2012

Crohn's Is on the Rise Among Children; Study To Determine Which Kids Will Benefit From New Drugs

Kate Goldbaum (center left) weighed only 85 pounds as a 14-year-old; she put off taking ‘biologics.’
Courtesy of Kate Goldbaum
Last February, on a warm day in North Carolina, Dr. David Wohl entered the playground and saw his eight-year-old son, Zac, sitting motionless in the sandbox. “He looked like a 90-year-old guy who had fallen and couldn’t get up,” said Wohl, an AIDS expert and associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A few days later, after Zac was gripped by multiple intensive stomachaches, he was rushed to the hospital. “He was having 15 to 20 bellyaches a day. His grandmother could tell something was wrong by just looking at him,” Wohl said.

Zac was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects about 1.4 million Americans, most often Caucasians — and, even more often, Ashkenazi Jews. Studies have shown that as many as 317 of every 100,000 North Americans have Crohn’s disease, but among the Ashkenazi Jewish population, it is two to four times more prevalent. And for unknown reasons, it’s on the rise, among children in particular.

“Children under 18 [are] the fastest-growing patient population,” said Dr. Ted Densen, medical director of Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. “One in five children that are diagnosed with IBD present it with severe disease.” Symptoms can range from mild stomach pain and constipation to more severe aches, fatigue, diarrhea, bleeding and infection. -- Hannah Rubin, Forward

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