Nutritional therapy in pediatric Crohn disease: the specific carbohydrate diet

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Jan;58(1):87-91. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000103.


Objectives: Crohn disease is characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation in the absence of a recognized etiology. Nutritional therapy in the form of exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) has an established role within pediatric Crohn disease. Following exclusive enteral nutrition's success, many dietary therapies focusing on the elimination of specific complex carbohydrates have been anecdotally reported to be successful.

Methods: Many of these therapies have not been evaluated scientifically; therefore, we reviewed the medical records of our patients with Crohn disease on the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD).

Results: Seven children with Crohn disease receiving the SCD and no immunosuppressive medications were retrospectively evaluated. Duration of the dietary therapy ranged from 5 to 30 months, with an average of 14.6±10.8 months. Although the exact time of symptom resolution could not be determined through chart review, all symptoms were notably resolved at a routine clinic visit 3 months after initiating the diet. Each patient's laboratory indices, including serum albumin, C-reactive protein, hematocrit, and stool calprotectin, either normalized or significantly, improved during follow-up clinic visits.

Conclusions: This chart review suggests that the SCD and other low complex carbohydrate diets may be possible therapeutic options for pediatric Crohn disease. Further prospective studies are required to fully assess the safety and efficacy of the SCD, or any other low complex SCDs in pediatric patients with Crohn disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Child
  • Crohn Disease / diet therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / therapeutic use*
  • Edible Grain
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / metabolism
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex
  • Serum Albumin
  • C-Reactive Protein

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Crohn's disease