Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are Iife long gastrointestinal disorders  that commonly present themselves in children, adolescents and adulthood.

Collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the conditions are an emerging global disease, with Australia having one of the highest prevalence in the world. About 1.6 million Americans have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This figure includes about 780,000 people with Crohn’s disease and another 907,000 with ulcerative colitis. Researchers have estimated that 6 to 15 new cases of Crohn’s disease are diagnosed per 100,000 people each year.  More than 80,000 Australians live with these conditions, with numbers expected to increase to more than 100,000 by 2022.

The conditions are becoming more prevalent, more severe and more complex and are being diagnosed in more and more very young patients.

During a disease flare, inflammation in the colon, rectum and gastrointestinal tract can become so severe that sufferers need to be hospitalised and/or require surgery.

The conditions are  largely unpredictable with significant variation in the degree and pattern of symptoms affecting each patient. The relapsing and chronic nature of the disorder has broader impacts on a person’s emotional, physical and social wellbeing. Patients may also develop complications that are potentially life threatening, with links between IBD and increased risks of colorectal cancer as well as the adverse side effects of treatment.