The incidence of IBD has either continued to increase or has stabilized at a high rate in most developed countries, whereas the incidence continues to rise in regions where IBD had been less common. The prevalence has continued to increase as a result of a combination of previously rising incidence and improved survival. Regardless of the exact prevalence, the burden of disease in North America and Europe is significant. Studying the patterns of geographic variation and age and gender distribution may yield important clues to the cause of IBD.
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