Canada has among the highest incidence and prevalence rates for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in the world. Most disturbingly, the incidence rate of childhood-onset IBD is steadily rising. At the recent February 2014 Canadian Digestive Diseases Week, Dr. Eric Benchimol and colleagues presented their most recent analysis of incidence rates based on Ontario administrative health data. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of children less than 10 years of age at time of diagnosis with IBD increased by 9.3% per year, and the number of pre-teens and adolescents by 3.4% per year. While IBD is still most commonly diagnosed in young adults aged 20-40 years, onset of illness is increasingly occurring during childhood or adolescence. The burden of illness imposed on these young patients and their families by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is considerable.
There is an urgent need to understand the environmental exposures responsible for the disturbing increases in incidence, so that preventive strategies can be identified, AND an ever pressing need to ensure accurate diagnosis and best possible treatment for affected children.
The creation of the Canadian Children IBD Network has been possible only because of the dedication and vision of the British-Columbia based C.H.I.L.D. Foundation (Children with Intestinal and Liver Disorders), which is committed to finding a cure for IBD. With Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the CHILD Foundation has facilitated the first national pediatric IBD network.
The creation of this Network is very timely. During the past 15 years, success in exploring the genetic basis of disease susceptibility has been arguably greater in IBD, particularly in Crohn’s disease, than in any other complex disorder. Developments in genesequencing technologies and powerful bioinformatic tools, are enabling a more comprehensive analysis of the composition of the human gut microbiota, so that its suspected role in triggering and/or perpetuating chronic inflammation in genetically predisposed can be examined. New treatment algorithms focus on healing the intestine rather than mere symptom control, aiming for much better long-term health.
The Canadian Children IBD network has brought together committed physicians, nursing professionals, dieticians, clinical investigators, laboratory-based scientists from across Canada, with the common goals of understanding the causes of IBD, and of determining the most effective treatments, so that each child’s health and quality of life are restored.
To join the CIDsCaNN network, please contact the national coordinating centre or a participating site through the email directory.
To learn more about our current cohort of subjects and to view figures please click here.