Crohn's disease in children: Are growth delays permanent?

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Crohn's disease in children: Are growth delays permanent?

Question

My 8-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease. What are the long-term effects of this disease on her growth? Can treatment reverse these effects?

Bari
Colorado

Answer

Active Crohn's disease can stunt the growth of a child. Also, some medications used to treat Crohn's disease in children — such as corticosteroids — can retard growth. The key is to treat the Crohn's disease and get it into remission to minimize the use of corticosteroids. Also, other medications that don't affect growth can be used in place of corticosteroids.

Growth delays can become permanent if a child's growth plates have fused, which means the child has stopped growing. This usually occurs in adolescence. If the child's growth plates haven't fused yet and the Crohn's is treated, growth delays may be reversed.

Good nutrition also is very important for growth. The use of other treatments to promote growth, such as growth hormone, should be discussed with your child's doctor.

Last Updated: 03/07/2007
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