Biologic agents are a highly useful class of medications for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Limited evidence exists to guide initiation of biologic therapy, especially in pediatric patients. It is unclear if disease severity is connected to biologic response. We hypothesized that the clinical, biochemical and radiographic characteristics of pediatric IBD at diagnosis were associated with subsequent initiation of biologic therapy.
We performed a retrospective analysis of the charts of all pediatric patients diagnosed with IBD at our centre over 14 years. Kaplan–Meier curves evaluated patient characteristics at diagnosis with time to initiation of biologic therapy. A Cox proportional hazards model was used for multivariate characteristic analysis.
A total of 198 patients were included, 57.6% had Crohn’s disease, 27.8% had ulcerative colitis and 14.6% had IBD type unclassified. Mean follow-up time was 47.8 months. About 55.5% of the patients received a biologic medication, the mean time to biologic initiation was 21.5 months. Earlier initiation of biologic therapy was frequently associated with older age, higher disease activity index and lower serum albumin.
Older pediatric patients with more severely active disease and lower serum albumin levels at the time of IBD diagnosis were more likely to initiate biologic therapy when considering biologic initiation, even many years after diagnosis. Identification of these characteristics may help inform decisions to initiate biologic therapy earlier in the IBD disease course.