The therapy of Crohn's disease in adolescence must balance the natural disease history of growth suppression, debilitation, and progression against possible drugrelated adverse effects on growth and development. In contrast to published guidelines which usually suggest episodic and symptomatic treatment of relapses, we have attempted to suppress disease activity throughout adolescence. Sixteen consecutive adolescent patients treated with continuous medical therapy for a mean duration of 3.5 years are presented. Fourteen received long term prednisone therapy for maintenance of disease suppression. All 16 have been asymptomatic or have had only mild symptoms which did not interfere with regular activities. Only 1 subject had to be rehospitalized. He subsequently underwent bowel surgery. Alternate day corticosteroid administration has been attained in 11 patients; 10 are growing and developing at a normal rate. In total, 13 of 16 have achieved pubertal development appropriate for age. The 8 patients with distal ileal disease have had a consistently excellent response to medical therapy. There have been no major adverse effects from drug therapy. It is concluded that an effort to suppress disease activity continuously in adolsecents with Crohn's disease is warranted. Excellent symptomatic control and normal rate of growth can be expected in patients with primarily ileal disease.
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