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Article summary:

1. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, is a chronic condition causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It has become a significant public health challenge worldwide.

2. The incidence of IBD has traditionally been higher in westernized nations, but newer epidemiological studies suggest that it is rapidly increasing in South America, eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. This shift in incidence among different populations has implications for understanding the causes and triggers of IBD.

3. While the incidence of IBD in western countries has begun to stabilize or decrease, the prevalence remains high, exceeding 0.3% of the population in North America, Oceania, and most European countries. Newly industrialized countries that are becoming more westernized are experiencing a rise in IBD incidence, indicating a potential emerging epidemic outside the western world. These countries will need to prepare their healthcare systems to manage this complex and costly disease.

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