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Growth impairment is a common complication of childhood Crohn's disease, but longitudinal data and follow up studies into adulthood are sparse. This study reviewed the records of 100 Tanner stages 1 and 2 children (66 males, 34 females) consecutively diagnosed with Crohn's disease at this hospital between January 1980 and June 1988. The influence of sex, anatomical location of disease, severity of symptoms, corticosteroids, and surgical intervention on growth were analysed by univariate and multivariate regression analysis. At diagnosis mean standard deviation score (SDS) for height was -1.11 (1.28) (males -1.14 (1.26), females -1.05 (1.33)). Twenty one children were below the third centile for height. During years one and two height velocity (cm/y) was 4.4 (2.3) and 5.1 (2.7), but 40% of children in year one and 33% of children in year two grew less than expected (< 4 cm). Forty nine children grew < 4 cm/y during two or more of the 4.9 (1.8) years of follow up. Severity of gastrointestinal symptoms was the major factor influencing linear growth velocity (p < 0.01 for years one and two). Despite the high prevalence of growth impairment, the subset of children who had reached maturity by the time of the study (n = 67) nevertheless maintained their height centile. The SDS for height at ultimate follow up was -0.82 (1.1). Compared with diagnosis, change in SDS was +0.35 (1.08). Growth increments were comparable for surgically treated patients v patients only treated medically and among patients stratified by location of disease. Females (n = 25) achieved greater catch up growth than males (n = 42). Ultimate SDS for height for females was -0.48 (0.91) v -1.02 (1.19) for males. Change in SDS for height was +0.66 (1.27) for females v +0.16 (0.90) for males (p=0.02). These data confirm the frequency of growth impairment in childhood Crohn's disease. After diagnosis, however, the prognosis for ultimate linear growth is good.