"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

More than 2 million people within the United States suffer from inflammatory bowel disease

July 31, 2023 – A groundbreaking study estimates that just about one in 100 Americans has inflammatory bowel disease, shedding light on the growing burden the disease poses within the United States, where as much as 56,000 latest cases are diagnosed annually.

Research shows that an estimated 2.4 million Americans suffer from some type of IBD.

“The prevalence of IBD has steadily increased in the United States over the past decade, and therefore the burden of treating IBD is likely to increase with increasing life expectancy,” said co-lead investigator Andrés Hurtado-Lorenzo, PhD, of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.

Factors comparable to the quantity of highly processed foods you eat, environmental pollution and other things can affect your risk for IBD. Environmental changes and the incontrovertible fact that diagnostic tools are higher are a few of the the reason why the variety of IBD cases is increasing, said Manasi Agrawal, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City who was not involved within the study.

IBD is a collective term for conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, fever, lack of appetite, fatigue, and sometimes rectal bleeding. The two most typical types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There are currently no cures.

Due to the fragmentation of the U.S. healthcare system, it’s difficult to acquire an accurate estimate of the number of individuals within the United States who’ve IBD.

The latest study compiled data from private health insurers in addition to Medicare and Medicaid plans to estimate the variety of IBD cases within the United States and the speed at which they’re increasing.

The study found that just about 1% of all Americans are diagnosed with IBD, which equates to 721 cases per 100,000 people. That's nearly 1 in 100 people.

The incidence of IBD peaks in adults of their 30s and declines in later years. Ulcerative colitis is barely more common than Crohn's disease in most age groups, except in children, where this trend is reversed.

IBD is most typical within the Northeast and least common within the Western United States.

The overall prevalence of IBD increased progressively from 2011 to 2020.

In the past, IBDs were barely more common in men, but latest data suggest that the disease is barely more common in women and boys.

The IBD rate is seven times higher amongst whites than amongst blacks, six times higher than amongst Hispanics, and 21 times higher than amongst Asians.

The reasons for these ethnic differences are “complex and multifactorial, and further research is needed to better understand the specific mechanisms underlying these differences,” said Hurtado-Lorenzo.

Genetic and environmental aspects, socioeconomic aspects, differences in health care, differences in disease awareness and reporting, and underdiagnosis may contribute to those differences.

IBD is less common in children with Medicaid insurance, “underscoring the need for further research on the influence of social determinants of health on the treatment of IBD,” Hurtado-Lorenzo said.

Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston who was not involved within the study, said the authors deserve praise for this “ambitious and important study.”

“Having an idea of ​​how widespread IBD is and how its prevalence is likely to increase is important for resource planning by organizations and health systems,” he said.

This study represents “a first step toward optimizing healthcare resource allocation and improving care for people with IBD,” Agrawal said.