Understanding Pediatric Crohn's Disease (PCD)
What is PCD?
PCD is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that occurs in children younger than 17 years of age. While the exact incidence of PCD is unknown, it is estimated that 10% of new cases of Crohn's disease occur in patients younger than 18 years of age, or an estimated 140,000 children. PCD usually presents during the mid to late teens, but it has been detected in even younger children.
Crohn's disease causes painful inflammation in the digestive tract. This usually occurs in the lower part of the small intestine or colon. Both adult and pediatric Crohn's patients may experience a number of symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, fever, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, and weight loss. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
What causes PCD?
While the direct cause of PCD is unknown, here's what we do know: First, children may be more likely to experience PCD if it's part of their family's medical history. Second, PCD symptoms begin when the immune system attacks healthy cells in a child's body, for reasons we do not yet understand.
Normally, the immune system (the body's natural defense system), protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other foreign agents. When children have PCD, their immune system incorrectly targets their gastrointestinal tract. This causes inflammation—leading to the symptoms and flares usually experienced with PCD.
Who gets PCD?
PCD usually presents in children during the mid to late teens; however, it has been detected in even younger children.
The symptoms of PCD
Symptoms of PCD can range in severity and may develop over time or very suddenly. Symptoms typically include:
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
These symptoms can have a serious impact on a child's quality of life. If your child is still experiencing the cycle of good days and bad days, the symptoms aren't really under control. The good news is, treatments are available to control symptoms. Learn about Treatment Options