Millions of people worldwide, including 1.6 million Americans (1 in 200), are affected by IBD, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These are debilitating diseases in which the immune system attacks the digestive system. Symptoms can include (but are not limited to) intestinal bleeding, ulcerations, intense pain and cramping, severe diarrhea, malnutrition due to the inability to absorb nutrients, lack of growth in children, intestinal narrowings that can result in obstructions, and fistulae. These are life-long chronic conditions that often result in the need for multiple surgeries over a person's lifetime. Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, along with many of the medications used to manage IBD, lead to an increased risk of cancer and other conditions. Complications can be life-threatening or fatal.
The, physical, emotional, and psychological toll on children living with these insidious diseases is immeasurable.
Children are the fastest-growing population being diagnosed, sometimes before the age of 1, and their symptoms are often more severe. Kids often miss school, sports, and other social events, and are sometimes hospitalized for months at a time.