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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

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What is the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of related conditions that can require complex treatment. It includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The IBD Center at Seattle Children’s brings a team of specialists together in one place to give your child and family the most complete care.

Doctors believe IBD happens because of a problem between a child’s genetic makeup, their immune system and their microbiome. To diagnose and treat IBD, it’s important to understand and address this complex relationship. This is why our center combines care from experts in digestive health, immune health, nutrition, surgery and psychology.

We treat the whole child. Members of the IBD Center team have special training not only in their field, but also in the unique needs of children. We understand how IBD affects children differently from adults, and we know what it’s like for families to live with IBD.

The team also conducts research to learn more about the causes of IBD, find better treatments and improve the quality of life for children with IBD. We’re part of ImproveCareNow, a group of more than 55 centers working together to study and refine IBD care for children across the country and internationally.

How will the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center meet my needs?

The center provides rapid access to many IBD experts. You can usually get an appointment with an IBD specialist within five to seven days. We can schedule your visit so your child sees many members of the healthcare team in one place on the same day.

Your child’s team will design a short-term plan to get your child feeling better and a long-term plan to keep them better. You and your child are active partners in making treatment choices.

We offer a range of IBD treatments, including new methods:

  • We try to treat children without using corticosteroids. These medicines can cause long-lasting side effects if they’re used again and again.
  • Clinical studies show that certain nutritional therapies (formulas or diets) may reduce IBD inflammation and promote healing of the lining of the bowel (the intestinal mucosa). We offer exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) and support the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). We can help you and your child decide whether nutritional therapy is right for them and how to do it.
  • Children with IBD need special focus on nutrition to support their growing bodies, such as making sure they get the nutrients to build strong bones. We assess and address your child’s unique needs.
  • Seattle Children’s offers advanced treatments, such as the medicine natalizumab and fecal microbiota transplant therapy (also known as stool transplant or feces transplant). These are not offered everywhere for children with IBD.
  • The surgery that some children need for IBD is highly technical. Our surgeons do more of these operations for children than any other surgeons in the region, including Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Greater experience leads to better results.
  • If your child has severe IBD (or a severe IBD-like condition) that started before age 5, immunologists at Children’s can test for genetic changes and immune deficiencies that might be the cause. Seattle Children’s performed a successful stem cell transplant in 2011 to treat this type of IBD.
  • Through the IBD Center, your child has access to a range of expert team members, such as a psychologist and dietitian, to help meet their needs.

Read more about tests and treatments for IBD, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Who’s on the team?

Members of the IBD Center team have special training and experience working with children who have IBD and their families. The team includes:

Gastroenterologists

Physician assistant

Nurses

  • Teresa Wachs, RN
  • Heidi Zogorsky, RN

Dietitians

  • Kimberly Gleeson, RD
  • Nila Gregory, MPH, RD, CNSC, IBCLC

Psychologist

Surgeons

IBD research coordinator

  • Heather Vendettuoli

The team also has a medical assistant. Based on your child’s needs, the team will involve other healthcare providers, such as immunologists and radiologists with special expertise in IBD, child life specialists and social workers.

We partner closely with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Seattle Children’s Dr. Ghassan Wahbeh and nurse Teresa Wachs are the medical directors of the CCFA’s Camp Oasis in Washington, where more than 90 kids with IBD gather for a week each year.

IBD Video Series

 

What Are IBD, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis?

Dr. Dennis Christie gives a brief introduction to the different kinds of inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis – and answers common questions. He describes the unique services offered by Seattle Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.

 

How to Help Your Child Adjust to School After a Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis

Nurse Teresa Wachs provides practical tips about how to advocate for your child at school and help your child be successful there.

 

Medication to Treat Your Child’s IBD Without Steroid Use

Dr. Ghassan Wahbeh, director of Seattle Children’s IBD Center, discusses non-steroidal strategies to successfully treat IBD.

 

Nutritional Needs for Your Child with IBD

Dr. David Suskind explains the role nutrition plays in treating your child’s IBD, including foods to avoid during a flare.

 

Side Effects of Treating Your Child’s IBD with Steroids

Dr. Ghassan Wahbeh, director of Seattle Children's IBD Center, discusses the downsides of treatment with steroids.

 

Treating Crohn’s Disease Without Medication

Dr. David Suskind discusses the benefits of formula-based nutrition therapy (exclusive enteral nutrition, or EEN) to induce remission without medication.

 

Treating Isolated Lower-Small-Intestine Crohn’s

Dr. Ghassan Wahbeh, director of Seattle Children's IBD Center, explains the particular considerations of treating Crohn’s disease that is limited to the lower small intestine.

 

What You Need to Know About Your Student’s Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

This video is a resource for teachers, coaches, principals and school staff. Nurse Teresa Wachs explains what IBD is, how it affects children and how you can help a child with IBD succeed at school.

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