Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) – are chronic inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract characterised by exacerbations, extraintestinal manifestations and increased risk for developing other diseases. Genetics, abnormal immune response to the gastrointestinal microbiota and various environmental factors play an important role in the etiopathogenesis of IBD.
Estonia has been considered as one of the countries with low incidence of IBD. However, nowadays the incidence of CD and UC is rapidly increasing worldwide. The incidence of IBD in Estonia is now three times as high as it was two decades ago. A difference in incidence of IBD in Eastern and Western Europe has been studied in order to find a possible explanation for these changes. According to the latest studies on this topic, urbanization, western diet, many vaccinations and few childhood infections increase the risk of CD and UC, though exact mechanism remains uclear.