A recent study (Shitrit AB, et al. Inflamm Bowel Ds 2015; 21: 631-35) highlights the phenomenon of acquiring inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by moving from a non-developed country to a developed country; the implication is that the changes in environment and diet predispose towards the development of IBD.
This study examined Ethiopian Jews who migrated to Israel. Using a case-control study, the authors compared 32 Ethiopian immigrants to 33 Ashkenazi patients with IBD.
- No Ethiopian immigrants had a positive family history compared with 42% of Ashkenazi group.
- Crohn’s disease was more prevalent in the Ethiopian immigrants: 94% versus 73%.
- The Ethiopian immigrants lived in Israel for at least 8 years before developing IBD an da median duration of 13 years.
The study discusses the difficulty of diagnosing IBD in rural Africa but speculates that rather than an underdiagnosis of IBD, it is likely to have a true low prevalence of IBD.
Take-home message: It takes many years for the environment exposures to allow for the development of IBD. Additional work is needed to establish the clinical, genetic, and microbial factors that influence the acquisition of IBD in immigrants to developing countries. Understanding the susceptibility of immigrants would have widespread application.
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