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Crohn's disease and colitis rates increase in Canada, highlighting need for a cure

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Canada rates of IBD increase significantly

In a first study researchers have found rates of Crohn's disease and colitis have significantly increased in Ontario, Canada. The finding highlights the need to find a cure for IBD that places a significant burden on children and adults diagnosed with the disease, as well as the health care system.


Research published this month highlights the growing prevalence of Crohn's disease and colitis in Canada. The finding that is the first to examine IBD rates in Canada raises questions about why the inflammatory bowel disorders have increased by sixty-four percent between 1999 and 2008.

Crohn's and colitis rates in Canada a concern

The study that was carried out by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute found Canada has one of the highest prevalences of IBD in the world.

"The number of new diagnoses each year increased from 2,444 in 1999 to 3,342 in 2008. That means that standardized incidence has increased by an average of nearly two and a half per cent per year since the 90s," said Dr. Eric Benchimol, adjunct scientist with ICES, and pediatric gastroenterologist at CHEO in a press release.

Reasons for IBD remain unclear

The researchers found the following:

  • New cases of IBD were highest among children under 18, and adults age 18 to 64
  • The number of people over age 64 who are living with IBD has increased substantially
  • IBD prevalence was found to be stable in elders but the number of people over age 65 living with IBD showed the greatest increase
  • Children under age 10 were found to have the highest number of new cases of Crohn's disease and colitis
  • Sixty-eight thousand Ontario residents were living with IBD in 2008

The reasons for the trends in CD and UC diagnoses are still unclear. The researchers suggest a combination of reasons that include changing demographic trends leading to earlier cases of IBD and "environmental exposure".

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It may be that IBD is being diagnosed sooner, accounting for the higher number of IBD diagnosed among children under age-10. The authors also note the disease is gaining a foothold from increasing use of antibiotics, C-section births, changes in diet or use of other medications that is changing the microbiome of Canadian children.

The finding is published in the journal "Inflammatory Bowel Diseases".

IBD places a significant burden on health and health care spending the authors note. Crohn's and colitis can be difficult to manage and can lead to multiple surgeries and hospitalizations.

Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and can also affect other parts of the body including the skin. Nutritional deficiencies from malabsorption of nutrients is also common. Diarrhea from IBD can lead to multiple trips to the doctor or ER for intravenous fluids from dehydration.

IBD cost was more than $11,900 per person in 2012 according to the "Impact of IBD report from Crohn's and Colitis Canada."

"This important study confirms, once again, that Canadians have more reasons to be concerned about Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis than anyone else in the world," says Lindee David, CEO of Crohn's and Colitis Canada. "These are the "Canadian diseases."The research highlights the need to continue to find a cure for Crohn's disease and colitis, David adds.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


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