Children's Hospital Colorado
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children

We treat kids like they should be treated: like kids. That’s why we designed our hospital just for them.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Gastroenterology 2021-2 Badge

Get Care

Would you like to learn more about us?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Center
Do you have questions about your child’s condition?
Call
Want a second opinion?
Get started

What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect any part of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus. IBD is a general term used to describe any of these disorders:

  • Crohn's disease: inflammation, scarring or infection of the digestive tract
  • Ulcerative colitis: tiny sores called ulcers develop along an already inflamed large intestine
  • IBD undetermined or indeterminate colitis
  • Very early onset IBD (children under 6 years old)

IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the large intestine. People with IBS do not experience chronic intestinal inflammation and do not have damage to the intestinal lining.

What causes inflammatory bowel disease in children?

Research indicates that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role in IBD, but the exact cause of the condition is unknown. Stress and diet may worsen IBD but do not cause it.

IBD can be triggered when the body mistakes harmless bacteria — which help digest food — for harmful invaders. Cells travel out of the blood and into the intestines to produce inflammation. This is the body's way of trying to rid itself of the bacteria it thinks is bad. In people with IBD, the inflammation doesn't go away and can damage the lining of the colon and produce ulcers, which eventually cause noticeable symptoms.

Who gets inflammatory bowel disease?

Anyone can develop IBD, although the risk is greater if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, also has the disorder. The disease can occur at any age, but in pediatrics, it is most common in children over the age of 10.

Next steps

Compassionate care, wherever you are

We’re here when you need us. Telehealth appointments are available across every specialty, so you can get the high-quality care we’ve always offered from the comfort, privacy and convenience of home.

See if telehealth is right for you

 

Get to know our pediatric experts.

David Brumbaugh, MD

David Brumbaugh, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric

Jacob Mark, MD

Jacob Mark, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Sarah Taylor, MD

Sarah Taylor, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric, Pediatric Transplant Hepatology

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Ronald Sokol, MD

Ronald Sokol, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric, Pediatric Transplant Hepatology

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?