Natural history of pediatric Crohn's disease: a population-based cohort study

Gastroenterology. 2008 Oct;135(4):1106-13. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.06.079. Epub 2008 Jul 3.


Background & aims: The natural history of pediatric Crohn's disease and risk factors necessitating surgery have not been thoroughly described.

Methods: In a geographically derived incidence cohort diagnosed from 1988 to 2002, we identified 404 Crohn's disease patients (ages, 0-17 years at diagnosis) with a follow-up time >or=2 years.

Results: Median follow-up time was 84 months (range, 52-124 months). The most frequent disease location at diagnosis was the terminal ileum/colon (63%). Follow-up was characterized by disease extension in 31% of children. Complicated behavior was observed in 29% of children at diagnosis and 59% at follow-up. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates of the cumulative incidence of surgery were 20% at 3 years and 34% at 5 years from diagnosis. Multivariate Cox models showed that both structuring behavior at diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 2.54; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.58-4.01) and treatment with corticosteroids (HR, 2.98; 95% CI: 1.64-5.41) were associated with increased risk for surgery, whereas treatment with azathioprine (HR, 0.51; 95% CI: 0.33-0.78) was associated with decreased risk. Azathioprine was introduced earlier in the course of disease in patients not undergoing surgery than in patients requiring surgery.

Conclusions: Pediatric Crohn's disease was characterized by frequent occurrence, with time, of a severe phenotype with extensive, complicated disease. Immunosuppressive therapy may improve the natural history of this disease and decrease the need for performing surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology*
  • Crohn Disease / surgery*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents