What You and Your Child with IBD Should Know about COVID-19

We have been receiving many questions about how COVID-19 (the Novel coronavirus) might impact our patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and have collected the following recommendations and points to consider.

*** If you are sick and need immediate attention call 911 or call Health Link at 811 ***

Returning to School 

Alberta K-12 students will return to school daily at the beginning of the new school year. We know how complicated and confusing these times are, and imagine that this situation is creating some stress.

We have researched this topic and have reached the following conclusions, but we do respect that in many ways this is a personal decision and each family may see this differently (whether there is a family member with IBD or not).


According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, if your child with IBD is in remission and otherwise healthy, your child should follow the local public health guidance regarding returning to school. This includes children on immunosuppressives or biologics. In general, children/adolescents who are in remission and feeling well may return to school.

There is uncertainty as to the risk of high-dose steroids (more than 0.5 mg/kg/day of prednisone equivalent dose, or more than 20 mg per day), severe active inflammation, and malnutrition in children/adolescents with IBD. Consequently, we recommend a more cautious approach until more data become available to help guide decisions.

Please read the full article on Crohn and Colitis website for more guidance.

We value the importance of learning and maintaining some normalcy (while not exposing ourselves and our children to additional risk). We advise our patients to follow provincial guidelines if returning to school.


You can find the official guide for parents here


  • Check for symptoms of COVID-19 every morning before school

  • Stay home when sick or if you have been in contact with someone who is sick 

  • Social distance whenever possible and practice good hygiene

  • If you or your family members require COVID-19 testing, you can find more information here


These recommendations are general guidance that we provide to our patients. When making a decision regarding returning to school this year, also consider your individual/family situation and any other factors that may affect the decision. 

Families with children receiving steroids or multiple IBD medications (beyond Infliximab/Remicade or Adalimumab/Humira, which are often given with Methotrexate or Azathioprine/Imuran) should discuss the risks and benefits of returning to school with their IBD physician.

If you have questions about your specific situation, please discuss them with your physician.

COVID-19 and IBD

COVID-19 in Children with IBD. There have been 5 reported cases up to March 24th, 2020 from international pediatric IBD centers. All five were treated with immunosuppressants and all five had a mild infection without the need for admission. Their underlying IBD remained stable during the infection and their IBD-related medications were not held in any of the cases.


COVID-19 in Adults with IBD. There have been a total of 41 COVID-19 cases reported (22 CD and 19 UC) amongst adults from 13 different countries.  Ten patients have been hospitalized and two patients have sadly died including an 82 yo male from Europe with ulcerative colitis (mildly active disease), Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease on mesalamine (not immunosuppressing) and a 25 yo male with ulcerative colitis (moderately active disease) on infliximab and methotrexate.


Given the number of people living with IBD, these numbers remain reassuring. However, we still strongly recommend our patients and families to observe strict hand washing, social distancing and self isolation where needed according to the Alberta Health Services guidelines.

What We Recommend

The risk for transmission in Canada, and specifically in Alberta, remains low. However, this is a dynamic situation and you need to follow updates from the media/Alberta Health Services (AHS). For the most up-to-date details from AHS, please visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16944.aspx

Please use the AHS Self-Assessment Tool to see whether you need to be tested for COVID-19

Don't stop your IBD medications without consulting your doctor. Your IBD is likely more of a concern than getting sick from COVID-19.


COVID-19 does not travel through the air over long distances or times; however, it can spread person-to-person by larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. 

It’s important to remember that while the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 is higher than with influenza, you can still protect yourself, your family, and those who are vulnerable in our communities by using the same practices recommended for protecting against all respiratory illnesses.


The best thing to do are the same instructions for the general population – common sense and good hygiene are the best measures:

  • Wash your hands often and well

  • Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

  • Use elbow bumps or waves instead of handshakes to greet

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched

  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill (especially postponing visits to friends or family in hospitals or long term care facilities)

  • When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands

  • Call Health Link, at 811 if you are concerned about your symptoms or believe you may be at risk.

There is currently no vaccine for this virus, so by protecting ourselves we are helping to protect others. 


If you have recently returned to Canada (within 14 days) and have fever or respiratory symptoms, or if you believe you may be at risk for COVID-19 for any reason and you are ill, please contact Health Link at 811 for advice.


For more information specific recommendations on IBD patients, you can visit the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation website (including a section for children with IBD): https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-ibd-patients-should-know-about-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19



We know these are stressful times and hope this information will help you manage this stress. We are here to care for you at all times! If you have any specific concerns or questions please contact us using the phone numbers you have.

Your EPIC team

Last Updated: August 6, 2020

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Unit 2E Stollery Children's Hospital

8440 112 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2B7


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