Medication for Ulcerative Colitis in Children

Gastroenterologists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone prescribe medications to help reduce inflammation in children with ulcerative colitis. The goal is to achieve and maintain remission—a prolonged period without symptoms.

Your child’s doctor develops an individualized treatment plan based on the results of diagnostic tests, the severity of the condition, and how well the medication works.


Your child’s doctor may prescribe an aminosalicylate—also known as 5-aminosalicylic acid or 5-ASA. This medication reduces inflammation in the lining of the intestine and relieves abdominal pain and diarrhea in children with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.

This type of medication may be taken daily by mouth or as a rectal suppository or enema.

Because aminosalicylates can help your child achieve and maintain remission, your child’s doctor may recommend taking them as part of a long-term treatment plan.


Corticosteroids are powerful and fast-acting anti-inflammatory medications that can reduce inflammation in the large intestine. Doctors typically prescribe these medications for children with moderate to severe symptoms when other medications, such as 5-ASAs, aren’t effective. Corticosteroids are also used to manage a flare-up of the condition.

Children often feel relief within days of beginning treatment. These medications can be taken by mouth, through a vein with intravenous (IV) infusion, or as an enema or suppository.

Biologic Therapies

Biologic therapies are medications that target proteins in the body, preventing them from causing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract in children with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

Biologic therapies include anti–tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents. These bind to and block a protein that promotes inflammation in the intestine. Another biologic therapy is an anti-integrin therapy, which blocks a protein on the surface of cells that cause inflammation.

These medications are given at home by injection or in the hospital by IV infusion. Our experts can teach you or, if age appropriate, your child how to inject this medication at home.


Immunomodulators regulate or suppress activity in the immune system, decreasing inflammation in the intestines. They may be prescribed when symptoms don’t respond to other medications, including corticosteroids and 5-ASAs. Sometimes they are prescribed at the same time as corticosteroids, thereby reducing the need for steroids.

They are taken daily by mouth or through weekly injections. Your child’s doctor can teach you how to administer the medication at home.


Your child’s doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help reduce the amount of bacteria in the intestines that can cause infections and to control symptoms such as abdominal pain. They may be taken by mouth or via IV infusion.

Iron Supplements

Ulcerative colitis can cause bloody stools, which may affect levels of iron in the body. A lack of iron can prevent the body from producing enough healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. This can cause anemia, leading to fatigue, dizziness, and weakness.

Iron supplements can help increase levels of oxygen in the blood.

A Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital dietitian can recommend dietary changes to increase the amount of iron in the body and relieve symptoms.

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