Background: At least 25% of individuals diagnosed with Crohn's disease (CD) have onset of disease in childhood. Almost all children with CD have nutritional impairments, such as weight loss or stunting, at diagnosis or subsequently. Nutritional therapy (exclusive enteral nutrition) is established as a valid and effective treatment in paediatric CD. The advantages of this approach are induction of remission and control of inflammatory changes, mucosal healing, positive benefits to growth and overall nutritional status, and avoidance of other medical therapies.
Aim: To provide a comprehensive up-to-date review of the roles of nutritional therapy in CD and of the data supporting this therapy.
Methods: A search of PubMed was performed with search terms 'enteral nutrition', 'nutritional therapy', 'Crohn disease' and 'children'. Relevant articles were selected from this search. In addition, the reference lists of available articles were reviewed for further relevant articles.
Results: Nutritional therapy offers numerous benefits in the management of CD. Recent work has begun to elucidate the likely mechanisms of this therapy. These include direct mucosal anti-inflammatory effects and alteration of intestinal microflora.
Conclusion: Further studies are required to define longer-term effects of nutritional therapy in patients with CD.