• 5-ASA drugs effective in mild to moderate Ulcerative Colitis

    This study looks at the effectiveness of aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) in the management of children with ulcerative colitis (UC). 5-ASAs are anti-inflammatory drugs which act on the bowel and are commonly used as first line treatment for children with UC, but until now there was little scientific evidence to support their use in childhood. In contrast, there have been several adult studies to show how good a drug they can be in both inducing and maintaining remission. The aim of this study was to determine if these benefits could also be seen in children.

    The researchers looked at a large group of children from across North America and followed them up for at least one year. The children included were newly diagnosed with mild/moderate UC and treated either with 5-ASAs alone or with a combination of 5-ASAs and oral steroids. Those children who required more intensive treatment were not included.

    The study showed that at one year 40% of the children were disease free without any additional medicines (in the form of steroids or other drugs to suppress the immune system). A further 15% had mild symptoms only, again without any additional medicines. Reassuringly, they found that these drugs were generally well tolerated with side-effects occurring in only 9% of children. These side-effects prompted discontinuation in around half.
    This study supports the common practice of using 5-ASAs in treating children with UC and shows us that this “simple” first line therapy can be useful in keeping children well without them having to progress quickly to drugs which affect the immune system.

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