Multiple functional gastrointestinal disorders in infants and the quality of life

Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) such as regurgitation, colic and functional constipation are very common during infancy. FGIDs are also a frequent reason for paediatric consultations in infants under four months of age.

Researchers from France, Belgium, and Canada aimed to evaluate the incidence and impact of single or multiple FGIDs (Rome III criteria) on infants during the first six months of life. In the prospective observational study, conducted in multiple primary paediatric outpatient practices, 273 French paediatricians with a specific interest in FGIDs were asked to provide feedback on 2,757 infants aged 0-6 months.

Problems often come in pairs?

78% of infants were diagnosed with more than one functional gastrointestinal disorder: 63% with two disorders and 15% with three or more disorders. The most frequently combined FGIDs were gas/bloating and colic (28%), colic and regurgitation (17%) and gas/bloating and regurgitation (8%).

The results of this study, and those of previous reports, demonstrate the high incidence of multiple FGIDs in early infancy and highlight the fact that associated FGIDs are a major concern for parents and a leading motivation for paediatric consultations.

Impaired Quality of Life

The comparison between infants presenting with only one or multiple FGIDs allowed researchers to identify several characteristics that occurred more frequently in infants with multiple symptoms. These included shorter duration of breastfeeding, as well as several clinical characteristics such as lower weight, an increased incidence of prescribed medication, slower recovery and impaired quality of life (QoL).

“To our knowledge, our study provides the first direct comparison of patient characteristics and clinical factors between infants with single and multiple FGIDs,”

said Dr. Raish Oozeer, senior program leader of gut health, Danone Nutricia Research.

Dr Oozeer added, “FGIDs have previously been reported to have a negative impact on the QoL in toddlers aged 2-3 years. Our study shows that this negative impact was exacerbated by the presence of several associated FGID in infants aged 0-6 months”.

The study findings highlight the need for paediatricians to assess the impact on QoL and, as a consequence, the need to propose adapted solutions for the management of FGIDs.

The full article can be accessed here.

Click Infographic FGID to view the infographic about functional gastrointestinal disorders in infancy and the effect of early life nutrition.