Nutritional Issues in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease


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Abstract

SummaryMalnutrition, characterized by weight loss, growth failure and micronutrient depletion, are prominent features of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the pediatric age group. Accurate evaluation of the patient's nutritional status and appropriate nutritional support, whether enteral or parenteral, constitute integral parts of the management of the growing child with IBD. Over the past two decades, a number of studies have supported the potential use of nutritional therapy to induce remission and to control disease activity in symptomatic Crohn's disease. More recently, preliminary studies on the use of dietary supplements of marine-oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids have also indicated a beneficial effect in IBD patients. In parallel with these clinical trials, scientific research has recently focused on the concept that specific dietary alterations can modulate the immune response. Components of the diet that may have particular relevance to mucosal immunity and the pathogenesis of IBD include polyunsaturated fatty acids, nucleotides, and amino acids such as glutamine and arginine. Future research in the interactions between specific nutrients and the immune system will likely increase our understanding of the causes of IBD, as well as enhance the development of novel nutritional therapies for IBD patients.

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