Inflammatory bowel disease is presenting sooner after immigration in more recent US immigrants from Cuba

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2017 Aug;46(3):303-309. doi: 10.1111/apt.14145. Epub 2017 May 19.


Background: Despite a rising incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Hispanics in the United States, there are no studies examining the relationship between immigrant generation and IBD onset among Hispanics.

Aims: To determine whether age of IBD diagnosis, time from immigration to IBD diagnosis and IBD phenotype, differed across immigration periods in South Florida Cuban immigrants.

Methods: This was a cohort of consecutively identified Cuban-born adults who developed IBD in the United States and were followed in gastroenterology (GI) clinic. We divided time cohorts of immigration by historical relevance: before 1980, 1980-1994 and 1995-to-present. We examined differences across time cohorts in diagnosis age, time from immigration to IBD diagnosis, and IBD phenotype (ie, IBD type, disease location).

Results: A total of 130 Cuban patients with IBD were included. Age of IBD diagnosis was older in Cubans arriving before 1980 than in those arriving between 1980-1994 or after 1995 (44.7 vs 33.79 and 33.71, respectively, P<.0001). Time between immigration and diagnosis was shorter in patients arriving to the US after 1980 (31.77 years, Standard deviation (SD) 12.83 (<1980) vs 17.13 years, SD 8.55 (1980-1994) and 8.30 years, SD 4.72 (1995-to-present). IBD phenotype, including type of IBD, disease location and surgeries, did not differ significantly across time cohorts.

Conclusions: Our study describes changing patterns of IBD onset following immigration in Cubans, suggesting that environmental changes either in the United States, Cuba or both are resulting in faster IBD onset in younger immigrant generations. These studies can inform the search for environmental triggers that may result in IBD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cuba / ethnology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult