Pediatric Crohn’s Disease identification and treatment options courtesy of Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What symptoms should a parent be concerned about that they see in their child that could indicate Crohn’s Disease?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Sure, there are three important messages that we should talk about today. First and foremost, for pediatric Crohn’s disease which is a chronic condition that affects the stomach, you really want to think about not just conditions such as diarrhea as the only symptom. There may be other things such as growth delay, fatigue and if your child seems to be having these symptoms, that should be something you want to talk about with your health care provider whether it’s a general practitioner or your pediatrician. And, then thirdly, once there is a discussion with that person, that you may want to go on to a specialist to talk about different treatment options.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I’m sure it varies, but how young can a child be hit with Crohn’s disease?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Well, we do know that there are about 38,000 children in the United States that have Crohn’s disease. And, it generally happens in the adolescent time period, but it can happen much younger. So, if a child is showing any symptoms such as growth delay or stomach issues, you really may want to speak with your health care provider about what you’re seeing in your child.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What are some of the challenges faced by children and teens living with this disease?
Nicole, diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 14 – Well, Lisa, my experience with Crohn’s… I was diagnosed at 14 years old… and three things kind of stick out to me about my experience. First, it’s definitely been a learning curve to talk to my doctors about my symptoms and what’s going on. And, second of all it’s been good for me to have a support system, primarily for me it’s been my parents. They’ve just been wonderful through all of this. And, third of all while this may be my experience with Crohn’s, it can vary for everybody. But, I know the symptoms of Crohn’s can be very embarrassing to talk about. So, for me, my parents really helped me to communicate to my doctors – especially at a young age – just exactly how I was feeling and what was going on.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Obviously being diagnosed as a child with so many years ahead for treatment, what can be the side effects of long term medications and what medicines are best and worst with regard to side effects?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Well, there are so many variations on how pediatric Crohn’s disease can present itself. So, depending on your age, you can have a bunch of different symptoms. You can have fatigue, growth delay, stomach issues such as diarrhea or nausea. So, the important thing is to really talk to your health care provider about the types of symptoms that you’re seeing. And, most importantly, after that discussion if it’s felt that your child has any of those coniditions… perhaps seeing an expert that can get further into the details about that. Then, after having that discussion with perhaps some procedures to really think about all the different treatment options that are available now that are different.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I know someone with Crohn’s and she is concerned about Humira’s possible side effects. Has that been an issue much or is it still a commonly prescribed medication for Crohn’s disease?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Well, everyone’s different and this person being on any medication – I’m sure she had some very important discussions with her specialist about that. And, it’s important that whenever you’re being prescribed any medication for whatever condition you have, you really have a very detailed discussion with your specialist because there can be different symptoms and issues or whatever with any of your types of conditions and certainly any of your treatment options. So, it’s really unique for each and every patient and that’s why it’s so important to have a very detailed discussion with your specialist.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Is there a specific diet that is best for children with Crohn’s disease? What are Pediatric Crohn’s Disease treatment options?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – We don’t know any specific diet yet and you know again it’s so important to speak with your specialist about all of these different considerations. I think at the end of the day that once you have that really detailed discussion with your specialist that you can really get to any of the treatment options or even nutritional issues that are really particular to each and every patient.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What holistic remedies can help children with Crohn’s disease e.g. foods that heal, exercise levels, herbal teas?
Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Well, I think that with any chronic condition whether you’re an adult or whether you’re a child that having a healthy lifestyle is so important. So rest, making sure that you’re eating well, making sure that taking whatever treatment options or treatment plans that you and your pediatrician in this case has come up with is really quite important because once you sort of follow a healthier lifestyle and really paying attention to be good to yourself and good to your body, then it really doesn’t matter particular what condition you have, you know that you’ll have a better outcome. So, there’s nothing in particular that we would say is perfect for each and every patient. But, we would tell you that having good rest, making sure that you’re eating well, making sure that you’re not overdoing it with your lifestyle is really the most important thing that we give as advice generally to anyone who has a chronic condition. And, then following the recommendations of your health care provider, whatever they may be.
To learn more about Pediatric Crohn’s disease treatment options, visit your pediatrician.