Feb. 9, 2024

National study seeks to close research gaps for kids with chronic gastrointestinal inflammation

Jennifer deBruyn co-leads research comparing 2 treatment options for paediatric Crohn’s disease
A close up shot of medical supplies

Canada has among the highest rates of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the world, averaging a new IBD diagnosis every 48 minutes. The onset of paediatric IBD was found in more than nine children per 100,000 in 2023 according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada 2023 Impact Report.

Dr. Jennifer deBruyn, MD, is the co-chair of the Canadian Children Inflammatory Bowel Disease Network (CIDsCaNN) and first author of a new study comparing two advanced treatment options for paediatric Crohn’s disease, a type of IBD in children that she says needs further research.

“There are numerous studies comparing treatments for adults with Crohn’s disease. However, studies comparing the effectiveness of different medications for children with Crohn’s have been limited,” says deBruyn, a paediatric gastroenterologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and associate professor in the departments of Community Health Sciences and Paediatrics at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

Jennifer deBruyn

Jennifer deBruyn

“This gap in paediatric research is common and is one of the reasons CIDsCaNN was established — to develop a clearer understanding of how children with Crohn’s disease respond to different treatments, using data gathered from across the country,” she says.

Crohn’s disease causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can be painful and significantly impact a person’s quality of life. The cause is not known. 

The study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, compared the effectiveness of two widely used medications — adalimumab (ADA) and infliximab (IFX) — in children treated for Crohn’s disease in Canadian hospitals between 2014 and 2020.

Both ADA and IFX are widely used to treat inflammation, though the mode and frequency differ. Children enrolled in the study with similar diagnoses achieved favourable outcomes after one year of treatment with either medication. However, over the course of a year, children who received IFX more frequently were more likely to have treatment intensify (by increasing dose or frequency of treatments) to maintain a favourable outcome. 

Funding for this study and CIDsCaNN was provided by The C.H.I.L.D. (Children with Intestinal & Liver Disorders) Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

Jennifer deBruyn is a paediatric gastroenterologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, an associate professor in the departments of Community Health Sciences and Paediatrics at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), and a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Child Health and Wellness
The University of Calgary is driving science and innovation to transform the health and well-being of children and families. Led by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, top scientists across the campus are partnering with Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and our community to create a better future for children through research.

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