Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is recognized in young children, however, only rare data on onset and evolution are available in children younger than 1 year. In the present clinical study, we aimed to analyze characteristics and clinical course of children with very early onset IBD. We were particularly interested in the relationship between bacterial infections and the use of antibiotics before the onset of IBD.
Patients and methods: The IBD database of Necker-Enfants-Malades-Hospital was screened for patients with IBD with disease onset during the first year of life and a follow-up of at least 2.5 years. Ten patients were identified during the period 1996-2002.
Results: All patients presented with rectal bleeding and had colonic involvement. Four patients had definitive diagnosis of Crohn disease; ulcerative or indeterminate colitis was seen in 2 and 4 children, respectively. Five of the patients had a positive history of neonatal or early-onset bacterial infection with use of antibiotics before onset of IBD, 4 patients were still breastfed and 3 just weaned when GI symptoms started. Seven patients had a severe onset of disease requiring bowel rest, parenteral nutrition and steroid medication, followed by azathioprine or cyclosporine medication. Surgery was necessary in 3 of 10 patients. Disease relapses were frequent and observed in 8 of 10 children.
Discussion: Very early onset IBD may reflect a subgroup of patients characterized by a particular sensitivity to modifications of the intestinal flora. Neonatal IBD was most often severe in presentation and evolution.