Skip to content

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Font Size
A
A
A

The cause of the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease, is not known. Studies suggest they are caused by a combination of things, including genes, environmental factors, and problems with the immune system.

There is strong evidence to suggest a genetic basis for IBD, including:

Recommended Related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

After a diagnosis with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you'll have plenty of questions. You may not remember them all, so WebMD has prepared 10 questions for you to print out and take to your next doctor appointment.     1. Could any condition other than IBD be causing my symptoms? 2. Do I have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease? 3. What parts of my digestive system are affected at this point? 4. What medications do you...

Read the 10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Inflammatory Bowel Disease article > >

  • Family history: As many as 20% of people with IBD have a family history of it.
  • Race and ethnicity: IBD is more common in white people. It's also more common in Jews, especially Ashkenazi Jews.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genes

In 2006, the first gene associated with Crohn's disease, the NOD2 gene, was identified. Since then, researchers have uncovered over 200 related genomic regions for IBD.

Finding a genetic link would help scientists understand the changes that lead to IBD, and help them improve treatments. A genetic link could also lead to a test for IBD.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 04, 2013

Today on WebMD

woman with pains in abdomen
Get personalized tips.
woman in restaurant
Tips for staying active.
 
woman clutching at stomach
Causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.
butter curls
What to eat and avoid.
 
Living With Crohns Slideshow
Slideshow
Ulcerative Colitis Surgery Slideshow
Slideshow
 
crohns disease healthcheck
Tool
Ulcerative Colitis Health Check
Tool
 
Crohns Symptoms
Quiz
Ulcerative Colitis Diet
Slideshow
 
Crohns Prebiotic
Article
Supplements UC
Video