Cramping abdominal pains, diarrhea, bloody stools--these are common symptoms of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Every year, up to 1470 children and adolescents in Germany develop the disease. But chronic inflammatory bowel disease is mostly diagnosed too late in these patients, as Stephan Buderus, Dietmar Scholz, and colleagues show in an original article in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 121-7). The average delay between initial symptoms and diagnosis is four to six months. In most cases, the inflammation will by then have spread further.
The most common types of chronic inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which cause episodic or continuous symptoms of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition to stomach pains, diarrhea, and bloody stools, other symptoms that have been observed are weight loss, stunted growth, a raised temperature, and loss of appetite. For the diagnosis, early and comprehensive examination is crucial, because this form of bowel disorder cannot be unequivocally determined otherwise. The treatment includes adapted drug therapy and a specific diet, if required. The authors found that healthcare provision for children and adolescents with chronic inflammatory bowel disease can be improved. To this end, the guidelines for the diagnostic evaluation and therapy would need to be implemented more stringently.