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Crohn's Disease

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Description: Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main diseases belonging to a group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Research has shown evidence of a genetic predisposition to IBD among Ashkenazi Jews.
Symptoms:
  • Abdominal pain, often in the lower right area
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding, which may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fever may occur
  • A greater risk of developing colorectal cancer
  • Children with Crohn's may suffer delayed development and stunted growth
Cause: Although environmental factors clearly contribute, there is strong evidence from studies of twins and affected families that Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), especially Crohn's disease, has a genetic basis. Research has shown evidence of a genetic predisposition to chronic IDB among Jewish individuals of Eastern European descent.
Treatment: There is no cure, thus the focus is on controlling the inflammation. Inflammation is controlled through powerful drugs such as corticosteroids. Surgery may be used to remove inflamed or damaged portions of the intestines. The doctor may recommend nutritional supplements, especially for children.
Disease Frequency: It is estimated that as many as one million Americans have IBD-with that number evenly split between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. American Jews of European descent are four to five times more likely to develop IBD than the general population.
Carrier Frequency: The carrier frequency for Crohn's Disease is unknown.
Diagnosis: Crohn's disease can be diagnosed through a thorough physical exam and a series of tests, which may include a blood test, stool sample, upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, colonoscopy, and x-rays.
Screening: No carrier nor prenatal screening tests exist for Crohn's disease at this time.
History: In 1932, Dr. Burrill B. Crohn and two colleagues published a paper describing Crohn's disease.
Future: While Crohn's is a serious chronic disease with many complications, it is not a fatal illness. People with the disease may be hospitalized from time to time and need to take medications, but overall most people with the illness can lead productive lives. Even though there is no cure at this time, research and education programs are improving the health and quality of life of people with Crohn's disease.

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