Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month
Throughout the month of November, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada celebrates the courage of the one in 150 Canadians living with Crohn’s and Colitis.
Approximately 20 to 30 per cent of those patients present symptoms before the age of 20. Thanks to the ongoing research at BC Children's Hospital, and the support of the staff within the Chieng Family Medical Day Unit at Children's (MDU), kids like eight-year-old Tarren Paramar are in remission and able to live healthy, active lives. Read Tarren's story below, first published in our Speaking of Children magazine:
Tarren Parmar’s mom, Harinder, says he’s a cross between Curious George and Dennis the Menace. “He’s always on the move, and always curious,” she says. He loves to play guitar and sports and to clown around. He also has Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the gut, and requires medication infusions in the Chieng Family Medical Day Unit at BC Children’s Hospital about once a month to stay healthy.
“He’s been doing well for quite some time,” says pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Kevan Jacobson, head of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition at BC Children’s Hospital – but that wasn’t always the case. Dr. Jacobson describes the aggressive escalation of medications required to manage Tarren’s symptoms. “Within seven months of diagnosis he was on the strongest therapy.” At one point, Tarren required several immune-suppressing drugs to control his symptoms.
Tarren was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at six years of age after years of hospital visits and no explanation for the blood found in his stool. In his first two years of life, Tarren experienced numerous ear infections, taking multiple rounds of antibiotics to combat them. Though the antibiotics did not cause the disease, Dr. Jacobson acknowledges there is a correlation between people who have been exposed to a lot of antibiotics at an early age and the occurrence of inflammatory bowel disease.
“Much like with psoriasis on the skin, or other immune disorders, the immune system in the gastrointestinal tract is overactive, resulting in symptoms like pain and bloody diarrhea. In children, this can prevent the uptake of nutrients and affect their growth,” says Dr. Jacobson. “At some point, we hope to be able to decrease or eliminate the drugs that Tarren is on, but we don’t want to do it now.” He explains that a pivotal uptake of calcium occurs in puberty and if the disease becomes active during Tarren’s growth spurts, it could negatively affect his growth and his bones.
Thanks to the care he receives from his health-care team at BC Children’s Hospital, Tarren is in remission, healthy and growing. Harinder wouldn’t have it any other way. “Everybody at Children’s is really wonderful,” she says. “That really makes a world of difference when your child is sick.”
For more information on Crohn’s and Colitis, please visit: http://www.crohnsandcolitis.ca