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What Are the Chances My Children Will Inherit Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease?

Angela was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis17. At 20, she had a colectomy, where they removed her colon.

Is Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Hereditary?

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's, both of which are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), can be hereditary diseases. A child who has a sibling or parent with an IBD has a twenty percent chance of having one of these in their lifetime. At this time, it is impossible to genetically test who will get the disease or who will not; they have not yet identified a gene that causes an IBD.

Crohn's and ulcerative colitis are so interrelated that if a close relative has one, another relative is just as likely to have the other.

Just as with any other disease, the odds increase if both parents have an IBD. The likelihood drastically increases up to an eighty percent chance of having one or the other if both parents have an IBD. The severity of the illness, on the other hand, is not hereditary. One person may have a mild case that is easily managed through diet and medication. In contrast, another person cannot get theirs under control no matter what they try and eventually will need surgery to place it in remission.

At What Age Do People Tend to Get Diagnosed?

Unfortunately, just as you cannot predict how severe a child's disease will be, you may not be able to tell whether they have it until they are adults.

Crohn's is common to appear in all age groups equally, although most people first recognize they have an IBD before thirty years old. On the other hand, Ulcerative colitis has a high tendency to show up at two different times in one's life. Most people have their first symptoms in their teens or twenties. Due to the shifts in hormones, the likelihood increases again when the person is fifty to sixty-five. Yet, any person of any age may have the disease.

What Races Are Most Likely to Have an IBD?

Since the disease is genetic, some races are more apt to be diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease than others. Asian or African descendants are unlikely to have either of these diseases, while Caucasians have the highest tendency. Also, those with Jewish ancestry have a higher likelihood than non-Jewish ancestry to have an IBD. Still, any person of any race may have the disease.

Does Where You Live Affect Your Risk of Developing IBD?

Unfortunately, where you live may play a role. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who live in urban or industrialized countries have a much higher risk than those who live in more rural areas, which may be due to the pollution present in urban and industrialized areas, causing cells not to heal as well.

Also, those who live in urban and industrialized areas tend to have a lower fiber diet and higher protein and fat. Fiber helps promote good digestive health, so people who eat foods high in fiber are less apt to become diseased. Another reason they are more prone to become ill is because those who live in urban and industrialized countries have more access to health care and doctors; therefore, they are more apt to get symptoms checked out.

Does Accutane Cause IBDs?

Some people believe that the foods we eat or even the medicines we ingest cause illnesses. One medication that has been rumored to cause IBDs is Accutane. According to the Mayo Clinic in a blog published in 2015, there is no association between the two.

Since previously, some studies stated a correlation, they discontinued this acne brand, although you can still find it under the names: Amnesteem, Claravis, and Sotret. There have also been many other studies that have not shown any correlation; therefore, if you are already at risk, you should proceed with caution. The active medication in Accutane is isotretinoin, which is what you want to look for if you have concerns and wish to take acne medication.

Can Stress Cause Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?

Another misconception is that stress causes IBDs. Stress does not cause disease to appear, but stress can cause a disease to flare up, whether the illness is intestinal or in any other part of the body. IBDs are caused by a gene, which means stress cannot produce a disease to appear unless it is already present in a person's body. On the other hand, stress can cause a condition to have symptoms occur that may not have presented themselves without the stressor.

Just as physical stressors can cause a flare, so can allergens, which stress the body. IBDs are believed to be irritated by an allergen that gets into the digestive tract. When the allergen is detected, the intestinal tract overreacts in those who have an IBD. As the body fights against the allergen, it also fights against itself. This overreaction may increase in someone who is under a lot of stress.

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No one will be able to predict whether their child will have an IBD, nor can they cause a child's illness to be less severe. If you believe your child is showing symptoms of the disease, it is vital to have them checked by a doctor to ensure they have a healthy digestive system.


  • "Crohn's Disease." Mayo Clinic. March 08, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  • "No Association Between Isotretinoin Exposure and IBD." Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 21, 2018.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: What would cause a four-year-old child to have ulcerative colitis?

Answer: Unfortunately, since I am not a medical expert, I cannot answer that. In all honesty, I doubt that a doctor could either. I strongly believe that food sensitivities play a large part in ulcerative colitis. These are different than food allergies, and many doctors do not believe in them. Usually, you have to go to a holistic doctor to get these tested. You can also choose to do the elimination diet. It is definitely something to ask your doctor about. More and more doctors are becoming familiar with these and the impact they have on inflammatory issues.

It is also worth trying because the most you could lose is a few hundred dollars for the test. The most you could gain is a healthy child.

© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz


Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 08, 2011:

I'm glad to help.

reflux from USA on October 30, 2011:

Thanks for this hub. Its really knowledgeable hub.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on September 13, 2010:

Thanks for the great information! All of that seems to coincide what I read in 2002, but I didn't know if the statistics were still accurate, and must have chose to leave them out! Thanks for adding to my article. I appreciate your comment.

LorianNina on September 13, 2010:

Thank you for the great article and the great info.

I am a person who likes numbers, so I just wanted to share the numbers I was able to find on this topic:

The info I have found indicates that: (according to info at, cited below)

The worldwide incidence rate of ulcerative colitis seems to vary greatly between 0.5–24.5/100,000 persons, while that of Crohn’s disease seems to vary between 0.1–16/100,000 persons, worldwide.

And also that: (according to info at, cited below)

About 20 percent (1 in 5) of people who have Crohn's disease have a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease, usually a brother or a sister, and sometimes a parent and child.

There appears to be a risk for inheriting Crohn's disease, especially in families of Jewish ancestry.

Children who have one parent with Crohn's disease have a 7 to 9 percent lifetime risk of developing the condition. They also have a 10 percent chance to develop some form of inflammatory bowel disease. When both parents have inflammatory bowel disease, the risk for their children to develop Crohn's disease is 35 percent.

I'm sorry that I could not find as much info for UC.

[ Sources:


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2010:

Very good information. Good hub.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on April 04, 2010:

Having suffered from severe case of ulcerative colitis that has led to 10+ surgeries, BM 20+ times a day, I will say it didn't ruin my life. I think we have to watch our attitude no matter what our bodies do. We can let it ruin our lives, but we can force ourselves to enjoy life despite. It can affect our lives so tremendously, but only us, ourselves, can ruin our lives.

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on April 04, 2010:

Good informative Hub; these disorders can really flare-up and ruin a person's life if they are not controlled. Good job!

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