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Rotavirus gastroenteritis: precursor of functional gastrointestinal disorders?

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: : Abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders (AP-FGIDs) following bacterial acute gastroenteritis (AGE) have been demonstrated in adults and children. An adult study demonstrated AP-FGIDs resulting from an outbreak of viral AGE. Viral AGEs are common in children. Thus, the demonstration of AP-FGIDs occurring after a viral infection in children could constitute a significant finding. The aim of the study was to investigate the development of FGIDs following an episode of acute rotavirus gastroenteritis in children. This is the first pediatric multicenter study designed to assess postviral AP-FGIDs.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: : It is a cohort study. Inclusion criteria of the study are children ages 4 to 18 years with history of AGE secondary to rotavirus. Sample size is 44 exposed and 44 controls (unidirectional alpha of 0.05, power of 0.80). Children consulting at 2 hospitals (Chicago, IL, and Naples, Italy) for AGE (2002-2004) who tested positive for rotavirus were randomly contacted by telephone >2 years after the episode. Each exposed child who visited the emergency department or outpatient site for acute trauma or well-child visit within 4 weeks of the index case was matched with a control of the same age and sex. Gastrointestinal symptoms and disability were evaluated with a validated pediatric questionnaire.

RESULTS: : Eighty-eight patients (46 boys, mean age 5.3 years) were recruited. Contacted patients presented with AGE in 2002 (9), 2003 (11), and 2004 (24). Seven (16%) exposed patients and 3 (7%) controls reported AP-FGIDs (P = 0.31).

CONCLUSIONS: : Our study suggests that rotavirus infection does not seem to place children at increased risk for AP-FGIDs at long-term follow-up. Larger, prospective studies should be conducted to evaluate whether rotavirus gastroenteritis leads to AP-FGIDs in children.

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