Alternate Names : Regional Enteritis
Crohn's disease causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It
is one form of a condition known as
inflammatory bowel disease.
What is going on in the body?
The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. This means that
the body's immune system attacks itself. The immune attack results
in chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and other parts of the
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
The cause of Crohn's disease is not known, but it is thought to be an
Inherited factors also may play a role, since 20% to 25% of the people
who have Crohn's disease have a close relative with this disease or a similar
disease. Crohn's disease is more common among whites than blacks. Men and
women are affected equally. The disease usually starts between 15 and 35
years of age.
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders
may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during
pregnancy. The study
involved women with
scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women
have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who
don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these
findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of
autoimmune disorders in women than in men.