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Growth Impairment in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Mary Sherlock, MB BCh BAO, MRCPI (Paediatrics), MRCPCH, and Anne M Griffiths, MD, FRCP(C)

The clinical course and severity of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) vary widely in children and in adults [1,2]. However, unique to pediatric patient populations is the potential for linear growth impairment as a complication of chronic intestinal inflammation. The challenge in treating each child or adolescent is to employ pharmacological, nutritional, and, where appropriate, surgical interventions – not only to decrease mucosal inflammation and thereby alleviate symptoms, but also to optimize growth and normalize associated pubertal development. Indeed, normal growth is a marker of therapeutic success. This review will highlight the prevalence of growth impairment in pediatric IBD, discuss its pathophysiology, and outline strategies for its prevention and management.

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