Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Discussing the latest advances in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

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April 23, 2015

Cognitive Function in Pediatric IBD Patients

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Specialist

Jeanne Tung, M.D., discusses two studies presented at the Advances in IBD conference. The studies focus on the brain and cognitive function of pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In the first study, 12 preteens and young teenagers with Crohn's disease had MRI scans of their brain. All of the patients were on steroids due to a Crohn's disease flare. The MRI scans were compared to healthy children without Crohn's disease. All patients also took memory, IQ, emotion, and attention tests. In the patients with Crohn's disease, a portion of their brain called the cortex was a bit thinner compared to healthy children of the same age. Patients on higher doses of steroids and with higher inflammatory markers in their blood work were more likely to have the thinning of the cortex.

In the second study, a combination of 85 children with Crohn's disease and healthy children were interviewed. The researchers also reviewed school records and tests of memory and IQ. Children with Crohn's disease were more likely to have trouble with memory, even when in remission. They were also more likely to have issues at school including general school problems (23.5% vs. 8.1%), use of 504 plan for academic reasons (38.8% vs 0%), and need for special education classes (45.9% vs. 2.7%).

What are the takeaways from the two studies?

  • If possible, avoid steroids or discontinue them as soon as you can.
  • Work with your gastroenterologist to find the treatment regimen that will get you in remission.
  • Work with your school teachers to look for any emotional or learning issues. A formal test of IQ and learning ability may or may not be necessary. If issues are found, work on an individualized education plan to get the needed resources.

For more information about IBD, visit

Dr. Tung is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic.

Tags: cognitive function, IBD, Jeanne Tung, pediatrics, Study Findings

That research is sad to me as a teacher who has had I rohnes for 30 Years. While I want to know more about this my concern is are there studies that show the cortex of adults who took steroidsnover 20years and biologics over ten? My memory and processing feels severe effected. I habe blamed myself and my ex hisbamd for my inability to attend to detail, to recall what I read and hear and to think sequentially theough a problem . Please send me studies or whete to look for adult cortex after 30years of meds and inflammation .

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