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Could thalidomide help treat pediatric cases of Crohn's disease?

The symptoms of Crohn's disease are a terrible thing for anyone to have to face. It is a particularly tragic thing when children face such symptoms. Sadly, there are many children here in the U.S. that suffer from active Crohn's disease.

There are several different types of medications that are used to treat Crohn's disease. A study was recently conducted on a drug that has been used to treat other conditions that indicates that the drug may be able to help children with Crohn's disease for whom the above-mentioned treatments are ineffective.

The drug in question is called thalidomide.

The study's subjects were children with Crohn's disease. Their symptoms ranged from moderate to severe. For all of the subjects, the traditional treatment medications for Crohn's disease had proven ineffective.

In the study, some of the subjects were given thalidomide and others were given a placebo. The study found that the children who took thalidomide had a higher likelihood of their Crohn's disease going into remission and of having longer remissions than the children who took the placebo.

When it came to side effects, one of the things that some of the children who took thalidomide experienced were odd sensations in their legs and arms.

There is a side effect that thalidomide is rather infamous for, but it is only of concern to individuals who are of reproductive age. This is that thalidomide can cause serious birth defects. This could be an important thing to consider if thalidomide becomes used in the future as a Crohn's disease treatment for adults.

Researchers have said that there is still more research that needs to be done before it can be known exactly how effective thalidomide is as a treatment for Crohn's disease for children.

The symptoms of Crohn's disease can have many significant impacts on children. Thus, having another drug in the fold that could help increase the likelihood and length of remission could have positive quality of life effects for children with Crohn's disease. It also could perhaps have significant benefits for them when they become adults (such as making them more likely to be able to be gainfully employed). Thus, it will be worth keeping an eye on future studies regarding the effectiveness of thalidomide as a treatment for pediatric cases of Crohn's disease.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Thalidomide May Help Kids With Crohn's Disease," Serena Gordon, Nov. 26, 2013

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