Background: The aim was to study temporal changes in incidence, disease phenotype at diagnosis, and mortality of adult inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] patients in South Limburg, The Netherlands, diagnosed between 1991 and 2010. In addition, the 2010 IBD prevalence was estimated.
Methods: A multi-faceted approach including hospital administrations, the national pathology registry [PALGA], and general practitioners led to the identification of 1162 patients with Crohn's disease [CD], 1663 with ulcerative colitis [UC], and 84 with unclassified IBD [IBD-U]. Temporal changes in incidence, disease phenotype, and mortality were studied using linear, multinomial regression analyses, and standardised mortality rates [SMR], respectively.
Results: The annual incidences increased from 17.90/100000 in 1991 to 40.36/100000 in 2010 for IBD, from 5.84/100000 to 17.49/100000 for CD, and from 11.67/100000 to 21.47/100000 for UC [p < 0.01 for all]. A shift towards milder disease at diagnosis was observed over time [eg decrease of complicated disease in CD, increase of proctitis in UC]. IBD mortality was similar to that in the general population (SMR 0.92; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.81-1.05), and did not change over time. The estimated IBD prevalence was 830/100000.
Conclusions: The IBD incidence in South Limburg increased significantly between 1991 and 2010. The shift towards milder disease at diagnosis in parallel with the improved diagnostics and ability to detect low-grade inflammation was suggestive of an important role of diagnostic factors in this increase. Environmental factors probably played a role as well. The mortality was low and, together with the increasing incidence, led to the high prevalence of IBD in South Limburg.
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; epidemiology; time trend.
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