What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of related conditions that can require complex treatment. It includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. 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 IBD Center combines care from experts in digestive health, immune health, nutrition, surgery and psychology.

What is the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center?

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.

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.

Second opinions

We provide second opinions for IBD diagnosis and current treatment plans for children with:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Indeterminate IBD

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 5 to 7 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, ustekinzumab, and vedolizumab.
  • 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 Crohn’s disease (or a severe Crohn’s disease–like condition) that started before age 5, immunologists at Seattle 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:

What to Expect

  • Learn more about what to expect at your regular IBD Center appointment.

  • Things to do before your appointment

    • Get records and test results. Ask your child's primary gastroenterology provider for testing results related to your child's condition, including biopsies and X-rays. Have your provider fax them to us at 206-985-3121.
    • Know your child’s medicines. Bring a list of medicines your child is on now as well as the doses. Please include special diets, supplements, etc.
    • Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to get your photo name badge and check in for your appointment.
    • Bring a list of questions.

    Your visit will last 30-60 minutes and will include:

    • A complete history of your child’s illness and family history of illness
    • A physical exam
    • A review of your child’s current treatment plan
    • Teachings about specific therapies
    • A list of care recommendations to discuss with the provider who referred you. If your provider has questions, we are happy to talk with them.
    • A visit with a psychologist or social worker, if needed

    What happens after our second-opinion visit?

    • We will give you a detailed summary of our IBD consultation.
    • We will send your child’s referring provider a copy of our IBD consultation and recommendations.
    • If you have further questions about your child’s care and treatment, please ask your referring provider.

Contact Us

If you would like a referral to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, talk with your primary care provider or current gastrointestinal specialist. Call 206-987-2521 to request an appointment, a second opinion or more information.

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

IBD surgeons

Advanced registered nurse practitioner

Physician assistant

Dietitians

  • Kimberly Braly, RDN
  • Nila Gregory, MPH, RDN, CNSC, IBCLC

Nurses

  • Rachelle Foreman, RN
  • Sarah Mbonde, RN
  • Teresa Wachs, RN

IBD research coordinators

  • Jani Klein

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.