Symptoms and Signs of Crohn's Disease in Children and Teens

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Crohn's Disease in Children and Teens

Crohn’s disease (also termed Crohn disease) is chronic inflammation of any part of the digestive tract, although it usually involves the terminal small bowel, cecum and anus. It is diagnosed mainly in people aged 13-30 years but may occur at any age. The most common signs and symptoms in children and teens include diarrhea with mucus or pus, crampy or steady pain in the right lower abdomen (sometimes relieved for a short time by a bowel movement), pain or bleeding with a bowel movement and, in some individuals, bloating after eating, constipation, and/or infections of the anus, urinary tract or vagina (caused by fistula formation). Some may develop skin problems (erythema nodosum - raised red bumps especially on lower legs), mouth ulcers and eye inflammation. The following general symptoms may occur in some patients; fatigue, anemia, weight loss, low-grade fevers and delayed growth.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease in children and teens is unknown. Theories suggest it occurs due to a combination of genetic (familial), environment, diet, blood vessel and/or psychosocial factors cause the disease. Some researchers theorize the immune system is the cause by overreacting to a virus or bacterium infection.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.