Gut Bacteria and Crohn's: It's Official (447 Patients)

Damn!  In the dark ages of IBD, doctors believed that stress was a key factor in disease control and said that my diet of 80% processed complex carbs was fine.  When exercise, sleep, and "relaxation" didn't seem to help, I took "extra measures."   By some convoluted logic born out of a fermenting gut I thought working in an Alaskan cannery for the summer (with active IBD) would be a good idea.  The extra stress would somehow make the IBD go away . . . but it was really about the intestinal bacteria.

A Harvard-led study released in March examined the intestinal bacteria of 447 children newly diagnosed with Crohn's disease (CD).  These children had not yet received Crohn's specific treatment.  Compared with 221 health control subjects, the study found:

  • The intestinal bacteria of the CD children was unbalanced, with pathogenic bacteria flourishing
  • The CD children had less diverse intestinal bacteria
  • The imbalance of intestinal bacteria related disease severity: the greater the imbalance, the worse the symptoms.
  • Antibiotic exposure "amplifies" the imbalance of intestinal bacteria. (57 of the 447 children were on antibiotics)
  • Compared to tissue samples, stool samples had low accuracy for reflecting the state of intestinal bacteria

The study included a large sample size drawn from 28 North American GI centers--making it the most statistically relevant study of its kind.

Gevers, D., Kugathasan, S., Denson, L. a, Vázquez-Baeza, Y., Van Treuren, W., Ren, B., … Xavier, R. J. (2014). The treatment-naive microbiome in new-onset Crohn’s disease. Cell Host & Microbe, 15(3), 382–92. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2014.02.005