JUL 25, 2017 4:53 PM PDT

Lower Rates of IBD Seen Among Children in Rural Households

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

New research has linked lower rates of irritable bowel disorder (IBD) in children to growing up in rural households. The study, which was reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, shows that there is a strong link between the development of IBD and environmental pressures - at an early age. This association could be due in part to the changes in the microbiome, the microbes living in our guts, that are seen in people that live in rural and urban areas. It may also be influenced by other factors like diet or genetic background.

IBD is a term that covers several gastrointestinal disorders, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis; symptoms include abdominal cramps, weight loss, bloody stools and inflammation in the digestive tract causing chronic diarrhea. Learn more about the new work from the video.

"Our findings show that children, particularly those under the age of 10, experience a protective effect against IBD if they live in a rural household," explained Dr. Eric Benchimol, a scientist at ICES and a pediatric gastroenterologist at the CHEO Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, in Ottawa.

Related: Babies' Gut Yeast Linked to Increased Asthma Risk

"This effect is particularly strong in children who are raised in a rural household in the first five years of life. These are important findings since our previous work shows that the number of very young children being diagnosed with IBD has jumped in the past 20 years. The findings also strengthen our understanding that environmental risk factors that predispose people to IBD may have a stronger effect in children than adults,” he continued.

This study included 45,567 individuals that were diagnosed with IBD; 6,662 patients with IBD lived in a rural environment, while 38,905 lived in an urban setting from 1999 to 2010 in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, Canada. The study found an overall incidence of IBD of 30.72 per 100,000 people among the rural population while the rate was 33.16 per 100,000 people in the urban group.

Complete GI tract / Credit: Wikimedia/Mikael Häggström

"We've known that in addition to genetic risk factors, environmental factors have been associated with the risk of developing IBD. But this new study demonstrates the importance of early life exposure in altering the risk of IBD, and that needs further study," Benchimol noted.

The researchers took care to avoid some caveats in the study, acknowledging in their report that there is not a uniform, reliable definition of what rural and urban are exactly. As such, the investigators assessed the results by using several different definitions of rural, finding that the strength of the association was dependent on that definition.

More work will be needed to identify the cause or causes of these differences.

 

Sources: Science Daily Via Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, The American Journal of Gastroenterology

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAR 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAR 27, 2020
Hand Sanitizer Shorage: Liquor, Perfume, and Medication Producers Joined the Race to Restock the Shelves
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the habit of thorough and frequent handwashing are among the best defense against the con ...
APR 05, 2020
Microbiology
APR 05, 2020
How Life Beneath the Sea Informs the Search for Life on Mars
Single-celled microbes that live beneath the floor of the ocean have provided insight into how scientists might be able ...
APR 19, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 19, 2020
Two New Viruses IDed in Brazilian Patient Samples
After an assessment of blood samples collected in Brazil between 2013 and 2016, scientists have found two new species of ...
MAY 09, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 09, 2020
Mysterious Illness in Children May be Related to COVID-19
Once thought to be mostly unaffected by the virus, rare cases of an inflammatory syndrome are emerging in some kids that ...
MAY 15, 2020
Immunology
MAY 15, 2020
Support the Microbiome So the Immune System Can Do Its Job
Research has long connected the human microbiome and immune system function, and now a recent study pinpoints a key poin ...
MAY 17, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 17, 2020
More Research Links ALS to the Microbiome
The community of microorganisms that lives in the gastrointestinal tract has a powerful influence on human health.
Loading Comments...