Clinical Course of Very Early-Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2023 May 1;76(5):590-595.doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000003730. Epub 2023 Feb 7.


Ugo Cucinotta 1Serena Arrigo 2Valeria Dipasquale 1Simone Maria Calogero Gramaglia 1Francesca Laganà 1Claudio Romano 1Paolo Gandullia 2


Author information

1From the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Cystic Fibrosis Unit, Department of Human Pathology in Adulthood and Childhood "G. Barresi", University of Messina, Messina, Italy.

2the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Unit, Institute "Giannina Gaslini", Genoa, Italy.


Objectives: Data on the phenotypes and disease outcomes of very early-onset inflammatory bowel disease (VEO-IBD) are limited. The aims of this study were to describe the clinical features, outcomes, and treatment response of VEO-IBD patients and to compare them with later-onset pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (P-IBD) patients.

Methods: All consecutive patients aged 0-6 years who were diagnosed with Crohn disease (CD), ulcerative colitis, or IBD unclassified (IBD-U) at 2 academic hospitals from 2010 to March 2021 were included. They were compared to sex-matched IBD patients aged 6-17 years.

Results: Two hundred thirty-two patients were included, 78 (34%) with VEO-IBD and 154 (66%) with P-IBD. IBD-U was the most common diagnosis in the VEO-IBD group compared to P-IBD (28% vs 3%, P < 0.001), while CD was predominant in older children (27% vs 52%, P < 0.001). The VEO-IBD group showed lower rates of clinical remission after induction with steroids compared to older children (82% vs 93%, P = 0.01), higher rates of steroid resistance (14% vs 5%, P = 0.02), and steroid dependence (27% vs 8%, P < 0.001). The number of patients who started anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α agents was similar between the groups. Anti-TNF-α retention was lower in the VEO-IBD group at 1 and 2 years (59% vs 85%, P = 0.003; 16% vs 55%, P < 0.001, respectively). Surgical risk appeared to be higher for VEO-IBD (32% vs 14%, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: When compared to P-IBD patients, patients with VEO-IBD may have a more severe disease course, a poorer response to steroids and anti-TNF-α agents, and require more frequent surgical procedures.

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