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    Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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    Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    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:

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    Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    The term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The likeliest cause is an immune reaction the body has against its own intestinal tissue. Two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon or large intestine. Crohn's disease, on the other hand, can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Most commonly, though, it affects the small intestine...

    Read the 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 13, 2015

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