Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the ongoing inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract.
The findings of the study suggested that it is important that patients who are diagnosed with IBD are carefully monitored.
“Individuals who are diagnosed in childhood need to be monitored carefully,” said Ola Olén, lead researcher at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
For the study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, the team from the varsity compared mortality rates in about 9,400 children who developed inflammatory bowel disease with those of other children.
They also identified patients with IBD such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The results showed that children who developed IBD before the age of 18 have a three to five-fold higher mortality rate than people without IBD, both during childhood and into adulthood.
This translates to a 2.2-year reduction in life expectancy in individuals monitored up to the age of 65, the findings suggested.
“Most young people with IBD do not die earlier than their peers, but a few individuals with a severe case of IBD and serious complications such as cancer greatly elevate the relative risk,” said Olén.
The most common cause of death was cancer, while fatalities due to IBD itself accounted for the largest relative increase in mortality.
IBD in adults has previously been linked to shortened life expectancy and is often thought to have a more aggressive disease course among children compared to adults.
However, it has been unclear how life expectancy is affected by childhood-onset IBD and if the mortality rate has changed since the introduction of modern drugs.