Reasoning Beyond the Potential Use of Exclusive Enteral Nutrition and Other Specified Diets in Children With Ulcerative Colitis

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2018 Mar;66(3):378-382. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001785.


The incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is steadily on the rise in Western and in developing countries paralleling the increase of westernized diets, characterized by high protein and fat as well as excessive sugar intake, with less vegetables and fiber. Furthermore, nutrition is involved in several aspects of pediatric IBD, ranging from disease etiology to induction and maintenance of remission of disease. Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) has been shown to induce remission, including in patients with isolated colonic disease, and leads to mucosal healing in Crohn disease. One hypothesis for the beneficial effect of this modality is exclusion of dietary components thought to cause dysbiosis or impair innate immune mechanisms such as the mucous layer, intestinal permeability or colonization and adherence with adherent-invasive Escherichia coli. Although there is not yet definitive data illustrating a role for EEN in the management of active ulcerative colitis (UC), there are several lines of evidence that illustrate that dietary interventions may be helpful. In particular, the key mechanisms of the activity of EEN (namely, changes in the intestinal microflora in Crohn disease) are likely also relevant to UC. Furthermore, the use of EEN in pediatric UC patients may add to a better bone health. Prospective studies are now required to evaluate the role of EEN in UC in children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diet therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Humans

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Crohn's disease
  • Pediatric ulcerative colitis