In 32 patients with Crohn's disease which started in childhood, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss were the common presenting symptoms, but unexplained fever and failure to grow were also prominent. Stunted growth was the most frequent physical abnormality when first seen in hospital. The mean delay in diagnosis was almost 3 years and the principal contributing factor here was failure to consider the diagnosis and thus perform a barium follow-through examination. The cumulative relapse rate after medical therapy or surgical resection was disappointingly high, but because the median relapse time is much longer for surgically treated patients, surgery is recommended at an early stage, especially in those patients who are growth-retarded or whose education is suffering because of time lost from school.
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