Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in childhood: best available evidence

Johanna C Escher, Jan A J M Taminiau, EES Nieuwenhuis, Hans A Büller, Richard J Grand

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The physician treating children with inflammatory bowel disease is confronted with a number of specific problems, one of them being the lack of randomized, controlled drug trials in children. In this review, the role of nutritional therapy is discussed with a focus on primary treatment, especially for children with Crohn's disease. Then, the available medical therapies are highlighted, reviewing the evidence of effectiveness and side effects in children, as compared with what is known in adults. Nutritional therapy has proven to be effective in inducing and maintaining remission in Crohn's disease while promoting linear growth. Conventional treatment consists of aminosalicylates and corticosteroids, whereas the early introduction of immunosuppressives (such as azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine) is advocated as maintenance treatment. If these drugs are not tolerated or are ineffective, methotrexate may serve as an alternative in Crohn's disease. Cyclosporine is an effective rescue therapy in severe ulcerative colitis, but only will postpone surgery. A novel strategy to treat Crohn's disease is offered by infliximab, a monoclonal antibody to the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Based on the best-available evidence, suggested usage is provided for separate drugs with respect to dosage and monitoring of side effects in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-58
Number of pages25
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases


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