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Is Crohn’s Disease Genetic or Hereditary?

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My mother and grandmother both have Crohn’s disease and I’m worried I could get it, too. Am I at risk for inheriting this disease?

Doctor’s response

The exact cause of Crohn's disease remains unknown, but it does run in families.

Crohn's (also called Crohn disease) disease is a chronic (slowly developing, long-term) inflammation of the digestive tract. It can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus but usually involves the terminal part of the small intestine, the beginning of the large intestine (cecum), and the area around the anus. The inflammation causes uncomfortable and bothersome symptoms and may produce serious damage to the digestive tract.

  • Current theories suggest that genetics, environment, diet, blood vessel abnormalities, and/or even psychosocial factors cause Crohn's disease.
  • Probably the most popular theory is that Crohn's disease is caused by the immune system overreacting to infection by a virus or bacterium.
  • Crohn's disease apparently is not caused by emotional distress.
  • Crohn's disease definitely runs in families. People who have Crohn's disease may have an inherited predisposition to abnormal immunologic response to one or more provoking factors.

For more information, read our full medical article on Crohn disease.

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CDC. What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Farrel, R.J., et al. "Overview of the medical management of mild to moderate Crohn's disease in adults." UpToDate. Updated: Jul 28, 2016.<https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-medical-management-of-mild-to-moderate-crohn-disease-in-adults>