Children who have Crohn’s or colitis ‘are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or an eating disorder’
- Researchers in Sweden analysed data from 6,400 children for the study
- They found 17% of the children with IBD were given a psychiatric diagnosis
- By contrast, the rate was just 12% for healthy children, the researchers said
Children who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) face a higher risk of getting mental health problems, a study suggests.
Researchers in Sweden analysed data from 6,400 children, tracking them for an average of nine years.
They found around 17 per cent of the children with the agonising condition were given a psychiatric diagnosis.
By contrast, the rate of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders was just 12 per cent for healthy children – and 10 per cent for the siblings of children with IBD.
The scientists claim this means the risk of psychiatric disorders is 1.6 times higher among children with IBD.
Researchers in Sweden analysed data from 6,400 children, tracking them for an average of nine years. They found around 17 per cent of the children with the agonising condition were given a psychiatric diagnosis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common forms of IBD, of which both are incurable.
The conditions are thought to affect some three million Americans, over 300,000 people in the UK and 85,000 Australians.
Scientists already knew that adults with IBD faced an increased risk of psychiatric disorders.
But the new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Pediatrics, examined the risk when considering children.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet concluded that overall childhood-onset IBD was associated with psychiatric morbidity.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a medical term that describes a group of conditions in which the intestines become inflamed (red and swollen).
Two major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine (colon) whereas Crohn’s disease can occur in any part of the intestines.
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps and pain frequent
- Watery diarrhoea (may be bloody)
- Severe urgency to have a bowel movement
- Fever during active stages of disease
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Tiredness and fatigue anaemia (due to blood loss)
People of any age can get IBD, but it’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40.
The conditions are chronic and cannot be cured so treatment usually relies on medication and lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms, but may include surgery.
IBD is thought to affect some three million people in the US, over 300,000 Britons, and 85,000 Australians.
Source: Crohn’s & Colitis Australia
The higher risk applied to a number of conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.
The team compared the risk of psychiatric disorders later on in life with both healthy children from the general population and with the patients’ own siblings.
By comparing siblings, scientists were able to take into account a large number of so-called confounders, such as socioeconomics, lifestyle and heredity.
These are all factors that are known to affect the risk of psychiatric disorders in children.
There was also a higher risk of suicide attempt after reaching adulthood for children with IBD, the research revealed.
The academics, writing in the medical journal, said their findings of the increased risk of suicide attempt were ‘particularly concerning’.
They added the results suggest ‘that long-term psychological support be considered for patients with childhood-onset IBD’.
Agnieszka Butwicka, co-author, said: ‘The study shows that children with IBD and their parents are in need of psychological support and longer follow-up.
‘Special help could be offered to children who become ill at a young age and to children of parents with mental health problems.’
The risk was particularly high for children who were diagnosed with IBD before the age of six and for children of parents with psychiatric disorders.