Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes & Risk Factors

There is no clear-cut explanation for what causes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One possible answer is that the
immune system, which helps your body fight disease, is overactive and causes inflammation in your digestive tract. While
the cause isn’t 100% known, there are some risk factors for developing IBD:

Genetic Risk Factors:1-3

  • Family history: If a close family member (mother, father, brother, sister, child) has IBD, you have a greater risk, but  genetics play a bigger role in Crohn’s disease than ulcerative colitis (UC).
  • Race and ethnicity: People who are white have the biggest risk for UC followed by those of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Crohn’s occurs more often in people of Eastern European descent, and it’s increasingly common for African Americans. 

Environmental Factors:1

Crohn’s is more common in the following environments:

  • Developed countries
  • Urban areas
  • Northern climates
References

1. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation website. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-crohns-disease/causes. Accessed June 28, 2019.
2. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation website. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis. Accessed July 15, 2019.
3. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353326. Accessed July 15, 2019.

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