What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease in a Child?

Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2021
Crohn's disease in children
Crohn’s disease can develop in children younger than 15 years old. Here are the symptoms of the disease to look out for in your child.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that commonly affects people between 15 and 30 years of age. However, it can also affect children younger than 15 years old. About 20 to 30 percent of all people with Crohn’s disease develop symptoms before they reach 20 years old.

The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease in children are abdominal pain and diarrhea. Other common symptoms include:

Less common symptoms include:

Moreover, Crohn’s disease may cause delays in the growth of affected children, including sexual development.

What are the complications of Crohn’s disease in children?

Children with Crohn’s disease may not be able to gain weight and instead experience weight loss. This is because the condition usually causes them to:

  • Eat less or avoid eating.
  • Skip some (or maybe many) of their favorite foods.
  • Become nutritionally deficient due to the inflamed digestive system causing malabsorption.

Crohn’s disease may also cause other complications in children such as:

What causes Crohn’s disease?

What exactly causes Crohn’s disease is not clear yet. Doctors and researchers believe the condition is most likely caused by a combination of genetics, the immune system and environmental factors that initiate and further trigger inflammation in the digestive tract.

Risk factors:

The risk of Crohn’s disease is overall low. However, children with a family history of the disease are at risk more than other children with no family history.

Children of Jewish ancestry have a higher risk of the condition than those of other ethnicities.

Moreover, smoking makes teens more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.

How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed in children?

Your doctor will ask you questions regarding your child’s signs and symptoms and perform a physical examination, including a rectal examination. They will ask questions such as if anyone in your family has Crohn’s disease.

To find out whether your child has Crohn’s or another condition causing their symptoms, the doctor will order tests that include:

What can I do to help my child live with Crohn’s disease?

Since Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition, it will come and go at various times during your child’s life. Due to their illness, your child may suffer emotional, physical and social problems. Because of this, you must work alongside your child’s healthcare provider to treat and manage their disease.

Have your child’s provider check their health regularly, which includes checking their:


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Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2021
Pediatric Crohn Disease. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/928288-overview

Pediatric Crohn’s Disease. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/pediatric-crohns-disease/#causes