There is not one single treatment option for managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Your child’s personalized treatment plan will depend on his or her specific condition and general health. Our team works with your child, family and pediatrician to tailor a treatment plan that best suits your child’s needs. We discuss all the therapeutic options with you and answer any questions you may have. Our approach is a holistic one: improving your child’s overall health, growth, nutrition and wellbeing.
As part of our treatment goals, we try to avoid excessive use of corticosteroids and avoid the need for surgery. While corticosteroids have been used for many years in the treatment of IBD, they can lead to potentially serious side effects including:
- Delayed growth
- Contributing to high blood pressure and diabetes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Vision problems
- Absence or irregularity of menstruation
- Effects on mood
Treatment plans are developed by seeking as much information as possible about your child's condition. We explore treatment options through investigating gene defects and the use of magnetic resonance enterography.
- Gene Defects
- We work with our immunology colleagues for children who are diagnosed with IBD under the age of 6 years, or "very early onset" IBD. These children may have a gene defect that plays a role in their IBD and which, if identified, could have important implications for treatment.
- Magnetic Resonance (MR) Enterography
- Children's National specialists use magnetic resonance enterography, a radiation-free imaging scan, to provide more information about Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Aminosalicylates.This class of medications can be effective in treating mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.
- Biologics. This class of medications target specific proteins in the body that play a role in inflammation from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Research has shown that optimizing the use of these medications early in the treatment course of many patients with IBD can lead to improved outcomes. These include infliximab, adalimumab, vedolizumab and ustekinumab.
- Enteral nutrition. Use of nutritional therapy for Crohn’s disease may be your child’s primary therapy or used to supplement other medical therapies.
- Immunomodulators. These medications affect the immune system to reduce or stop the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They can be used alone in some patients but may be used in combination with a biologic medication as well.
- JAK inhibitors. JAK inhibitors (tofacitinib) are the newest therapy for patients with ulcerative colitis.