Last updated on December 2008

Adverse Effects of Glucocorticoid Therapy on Bone in Childhood Crohn's Disease

Brief description of study

This study will compare two current first-line treatments for childhood Crohn's Disease, steroids versus a liquid diet, and determine the effects of these treatments on bone health, quality of life and treatment efficacy.

Detailed Study Description

Crohn's Disease is a very serious inflammatory gut disorder that often first presents in childhood. Once present, the underlying condition remains for life. It usually responds well to medical treatment which brings about a disease 'remission' but is inclined to become active again at intervals (relapses). When it is active, children are very unwell with reduced energy, loss of appetite and distressing abdominal symptoms (pain, diarrhea, etc.). Active disease can be treated in two very different ways - either with a 3-month course of steroids (tablets), or with a 6-week course of so called "liquid diet therapy (LDT)." With LDT, children receive all of their nutrition in liquid form. Both treatments have advantages and disadvantages. Both are quite effective, often controlling symptoms within days. Steroids may cause various side effects including thinning of bones (osteoporosis) with increased risk of fractures. LDT is somewhat challenging because normal (solid) foods are not allowed during the period of treatment. Both steroids and LDT are widely used - steroids predominately in the USA and LDT elsewhere. There is controversy as to which is best. This study aims to determine which should be preferred. In this clinical study, children presenting with Crohn's disease will be randomly assigned to either steroid treatment or LDT and followed up for a period of one year. During that time the assigned treatment will be used for any episodes of active disease. We will study a total of 80 children attending the Paediatric Gastroenterology Units in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and St. George's Hospital in London. Various outcomes will be compared in the two groups. We will examine the recovery rates (success in bringing about remission) and the frequency of subsequent relapses. We will compare growth and physical development, because active Crohn's disease and possibly steroids may have adverse effects on these processes. A special focus of the study will be on the effect of the disease and its treatment on bone health. Using special blood and urine tests and bone scans we will compare bone growth and density in the two groups. Finally, it is crucially important that we consider the impact of the disease and its treatment on the young person on the basis of their own individual perspective. To do this we will compare the 'quality of life' of children in the two treatment groups, using a questionnaire specially designed to measure this aspect in young people with Crohn's disease. This study will thus enable us to undertake a comprehensive comparison of the two major first-line treatments used in childhood Crohn's Disease. This is crucially important, and no such study has previously been undertaken

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT00609752

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Recruitment Status: Open

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