6-Mercaptopurine (6-MP) maintains remission in pediatric Crohn's disease (CD). Azathioprine, a prodrug of 6-MP, is used for maintenance of remission of CD in Europe. We evaluated to what extent azathioprine is used in newly diagnosed pediatric CD patients and whether maintenance of remission differed between patients using azathioprine or not. Charts of children (diagnosed 1998-2003, follow-up ≥ 18 mo) were reviewed. Active disease was defined as Pediatric Crohn's Disease Activity Index (PCDAI) greater than 10 or systemic corticosteroid use. Remission was defined as PCDAI 10 or less without use of corticosteroids. Eighty-eight children (55M/33F, age 12 ± 3 yr) were included. Seventy-two (82%) patients received azathioprine during the follow-up period (38 ± 17 mo). Patients diagnosed after 2000 received azathioprine significantly earlier during the course of disease compared with those diagnosed earlier (median, at 233 vs. 686 days; P < 0.05). At initial presentation, moderate-severe disease activity and prescription of corticosteroids were more prevalent in patients using azathioprine compared with nonazathioprine patients (75% vs. 52%; P < 0.05; and 89% vs. 58%; P < 0.005, respectively). Duration of corticosteroid use was longer in patients receiving azathioprine (232 vs. 168 days; P < 0.005). Median maintenance of first remission in patients who initially used corticosteroids, however, was longer in patients receiving azathioprine compared with nonazathioprine patients (PCDAI, 544 vs. 254 days, P = 0.08; corticosteroid free, 575 vs. 259 days, P < 0.05, respectively). We conclude that, since 2000, azathioprine is being introduced earlier in the treatment of newly diagnosed pediatric CD patients. The use of azathioprine is associated with prolonged maintenance of the first remission. Copyright

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doi.org/10.1097/01.mib.0000232470.00703.67, hdl.handle.net/1765/63740
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Department of Pediatrics