Pediatric inflammatory bowel disease

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Opinion statement

The combination of an unprecedented number of new therapeutic options (Fig. 1), along with new insights in how to optimize currently available therapies and advances in our understanding of disease pathogenesis, present many exciting new aspects to the management of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Clinical management paradigms must evolve in parallel to keep pace with these advances. Traditional pediatric IBD regimens have underutilized combination therapies (Fig. 2) and immunomodulatory agents. Increased appreciation for steroid side effects is leading to a shift away from their inclusion in maintenance regimens. Immunomodulators are being introduced earlier in the course of disease for maintenance of remission and growth promotion. Recognition that the sole signs of active disease in children and adolescents may be growth and maturational delay, despite a relative lack of gastrointestinal symptoms, should prompt earlier, more aggressive interventions. When more potent, rapidly acting interventions such as infliximab, cyclosporine (CSA), or tacrolimus are considered, they should generally be co-administered with agents such as 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) or azathioprine (AZA) for longer-term disease suppression.