BACKGROUND: Growth impairment remains a major concern in children with Crohn's disease, but evidence remains unclear, in particular, whether steroid use is implicated. We aimed to (1) determine the frequency of temporary (TGI) and permanent (PGI) growth impairment in children administered steroids and (2) examine whether cumulative steroid administration was associated with TGI and/or PGI.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was performed in patients with Crohn's disease (<18 yr) administered steroids at the gastroenterology clinics of Sainte-Justine Hospital, Montreal. Steroid dosage, height during follow-up, adult height (after age 20), and parental heights were ascertained. Patients with height z score <-1.64 on more than 1 occasion before age 18 were considered as patients with TGI. Patients with adult heights <8.5 cm below the expected target heights were considered as patients with PGI. Association between steroid dosage and TGI/PGI was studied using logistic regression analyses. Data from the Swiss IBD Cohort Study were analyzed for comparison.
RESULTS: A total of 221 children were studied. Approximately 19% (42/221) children were deemed as TGI, and 8/137 patients (5.8%) had PGI. TGI was associated with diagnosis at younger age (P value 0.002) and steroid administration at younger age (P value 0.001), but not with steroid dosage. Final adult height was associated with target height, but not with cumulative steroid dosage. Rates of PGI in the Swiss cohort were ∼ 9.1% in steroid users and 2.7% in nonusers.
CONCLUSIONS: Most children with TGI attain normal adult heights. Cumulative steroid use does not seem to be associated with either TGI or PGI in children with Crohn's disease.