Pediatric Pancreas Disease

Pediatric Pancreas Disease


What is pancreas disease?

Pediatric pancreas disease can include acute (sudden) and chronic (ongoing) episodes of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Expanded overview

Your child’s pancreas produces hormones and enzymes that help control blood sugar and digest food. A child with pancreas disease has trouble with these functions because the pancreas is inflamed.

Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that causes sudden symptoms that resolve in a few days. Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation that comes and goes and gets worse over time. It can lead to permanent damage to the pancreas or loss of function.

What causes pancreas disease?

Your child may be born with pancreas disease if they inherit a gene mutation (permanent change). This is called congenital (present at birth) pancreas disease.

Pancreas disease can also be caused by a birth defect called pancreatic divisum. This causes two ducts to form in the pancreas, rather than a single duct, and frequently leads to blocked bile ducts.

Other causes of acute and chronic pancreatitis may include:

  • Certain medicines
  • Blocked bile duct
  • Gallstones
  • Infection
  • Injury to the pancreas
  • Metabolic abnormality (a problem with the chemical process used to transform food into energy)
  • Obstructed (blocked) pancreatic duct
  • Side effect of another disease

Who is at risk for pancreas disease?

Your child is at risk for pancreas disease if they inherit the gene mutation. There is also a greater risk if your child has a metabolic or anatomic abnormality, such as pancreatic divisum or a blocked bile duct.

What are the symptoms of pancreas disease?

The symptoms of pancreas disease include:

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