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Gastroenterology Research and Practice
Volume 2013, Article ID 829040, 12 pages
Review Article

Highlights in IBD Epidemiology and Its Natural History in the Paediatric Age

Unit of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Digestive Endoscopy, Hepatology, and Care of Children with Liver Transplantation, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, University Hospital of Padova, Via Giustiniani 3, 35128 Padova, Italy

Received 30 August 2013; Revised 27 October 2013; Accepted 20 November 2013

Academic Editor: Andrew S. Day

Copyright © 2013 Marco Gasparetto and Graziella Guariso. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The number of patients of all age brackets diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) has risen dramatically worldwide over the past 50 years. IBD’s changing epidemiology suggests that environmental factors play a major role in modifying disease expression. Aim. To review studies carried out worldwide analyzing IBD epidemiology. Methods. A Medline search indicating as keywords “Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” “epidemiology,” “natural history,” “Crohn’s Disease,” “Ulcerative Colitis,” and “IBD Unclassified” was performed. A selection of clinical cohort and systematic review studies that were carried out between 2002 and 2013 was reviewed. Studies referring to an earlier date were also considered whenever the data were relevant to our review. Results. The current mean prevalence of IBD in the total population of Western countries is estimated at 1/1,000. The highest prevalence and incidence rates of IBD worldwide are reported from Canada. Just as urbanization and socioeconomic development, the incidence of IBD is rising in China. Conclusions. Multicenter national registers and international networks can provide information on IBD epidemiology and lead to hypotheses about its causes and possible management strategies. The rising trend in the disease’s incidence in developing nations suggests that its epidemiological evolution is linked to industrialization and modern Westernized lifestyles.