What is the problem and who is affected?
Crohn's disease and colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), are incurable conditions. IBD is associated with significant mortality and can lead to complications such as liver disease.
More common than type 1 diabetes or schizophrenia, at least 10,000 people living with Crohn's or colitis in New Zealand are diagnosed in childhood. Whilst children can develop these conditions at any age, it is most commonly diagnosed in adolescence with typical symptoms including pain, diarrhoea or bleeding.
More children than ever are presenting with IBD and it almost always interferes with growth and development while also impacting on schooling and normal daily activities.
What is this research hoping to achieve?
Professor Andrew Day (principal investigator on this study) says, “IBD leads to large healthcare – we have estimated the direct and indirect costs of IBD in New Zealand to be greater than$25m per annum."
This project is based in Canterbury, an area with one of the highest rates of IBD per capita in the world (with a prevalence of 308 cases/100,000 people in 2005).
An internationally recognised gastroenterologist, Professor Day will evaluate new ways to detect bowel inflammation through non-invasive testing. It is anticipated it will lead to significant advances in the approach and management of Crohn's and colitis in young people in New Zealand.
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