IBD and IBD mimicking enterocolitis in children younger than 2 years of age

Eur J Pediatr. 2009 Feb;168(2):149-55. doi: 10.1007/s00431-008-0721-2. Epub 2008 Jun 11.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is uncommon in children younger than 2 years of age. The criteria for differentiating IBD from other diseases with similar clinical presentation is unclear. We describe 16 patients who, between 1984 and 2004, received a histological diagnosis of IBD during the first two years of life. Six patients presented with histological Crohn's disease, eight with ulcerative colitis and two with indeterminate colitis. The median age at diagnosis was 125 days (range 1 day to 18 months) and the medium follow up was 89 months (range 65 days to 20 years). The disease appeared to be very severe: four children (25%) underwent total parenteral nutrition (TPN), two received colectomy (12.5%) and three patients died. Many of the patients required an aggressive, multidrug, immunosuppressive approach (azathioprine [AZA], Infliximab, thalidomide, cyclosporine A). One child presented with a hypogammaglobulinaemia without any specific immunodeficiency, while in the other patients, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) (4 cases) and chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) (2 cases) were identified. In 6/16 cases, allergic colitis was first considered; these cases initially underwent cow's milk protein-free diet as the only therapy before IBD was finally diagnosed. In conclusion, early IBD has a severe prognosis and often needs an aggressive therapeutic approach. Furthermore, an improper diagnosis of allergic colitis might cause an important diagnostic delay. Some severe immunodeficiencies, such as WAS and CGD, may represent a problem in terms of differential diagnosis and might be wrongly diagnosed as very early onset IBD.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Colitis / diagnosis*
  • Colitis / mortality
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colitis / therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / mortality
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colonoscopy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis*
  • Crohn Disease / mortality
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Enterocolitis / diagnosis*
  • Enterocolitis / mortality
  • Enterocolitis / pathology
  • Enterocolitis / therapy
  • Female
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic / mortality
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic / pathology
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome / mortality
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome / pathology
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome / therapy