Incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) quadrupled over the last 4 decades, stabilizing during the last few years of the study; however, prevalence continued to increase, suggesting a growing population of older patients with IBD, according to study findings published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers conducted a population-based, national cohort study (NorDIBD) from January 1, 1978 to December 31, 2020, in which they analyzed data collected from 7645 pediatric and adult patients diagnosed with IBD. In particular, researchers focused on 6158 patients located in North Denmark.

Unique 10-digit civil registration numbers for each person living in Denmark allowed for collection of deidentified health data from the National Patient Register as well as information on the number of people in Denmark. The researchers obtained IBD-specific data from the Danish Registry of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (DARIBO), which was initiated in North Denmark in 1985 and contained information dating back to 1978 on patients with IBD. This database later was transferred into the web-based GASTRIOBIO database.

Continue Reading

Approximately two-thirds (66.2%) of these patients had ulcerative colitis (UC), while the rest had Crohn disease (CD). Most patients with CD were women (55.7%), whereas most patients with UC were men (51.4%).

Between 1978 and 2014, the researchers calculated a 4-fold increase in IBD incidence, rising from 11.5 per 100,000 people to 51.3 per 100,000 people. The incidence rate stabilized between 2014 and 2020.

Additionally, they calculated point prevalence of IBD between 2003 and 2020. The prevalence of IBD doubled between 2003 and 2020 from 424 to 872 cases per 100,000 people.

“Our newly established population-based NorDIBD cohort, representing all 6,158 patients with a recorded and verified diagnosis of IBD in the region of North Denmark during 1978–2020, shows that the incidence and prevalence of IBD have risen remarkably throughout the last 4 decades, providing some of the highest rates from Western countries, but the incidence may be stabilizing, hence suggesting that Western

countries are approaching the epidemiological stage of prevalence equilibrium,” the study authors wrote.

Study limitations include those inherent to national registries and health insurance databases, such as coding errors, incomplete coding, and variation in coding procedures. The decrease in IBD incidence from 2014 to 2020 may be related to coding delays. Prevalence was only a point estimate due to lack of tracking moving patterns in the cohort. Additionally, a geographical shift occurred during the study period with 13 counties becoming 5 regions in 2007. The researchers accounted for this by only including patients from North Denmark in the final cohort.


Larsen L, Karachalia Sandri A, Fallingborg J, et al. Has the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease peaked? Evidence from the population-based NorDIBD Cohort 1978-2020Am J Gastroenterol. 2023;118(3):501-510. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000002187

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor