Background & aims: The potential association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and extraesophageal manifestations remains unknown in children without neurological defects. We conducted a large case-control study to examine the association between GERD and several upper and lower respiratory disorders in these children.
Methods: We identified all patients between 2 and 18 years of age with GERD who were seen at Texas Children's Hospital between 1996 and 2000. Patients seen during the same time period without GERD were randomly selected as controls (4:1 ratio). Patients with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or congenital esophageal anomalies were excluded. We compared the presence of several predefined upper and lower respiratory disorders in cases and controls.
Results: We identified 1980 patients with GERD and 7920 controls without GERD. Cases and controls were without neurological deficits or congenital esophageal anomalies. Cases were older than controls (9.2 years +/- 4.6 vs. 8.6 +/- 4.9, P < 0.0001), and were more likely to be female (51.2% vs. 47.2%, P = 0.0028) and white (60.2% vs. 41.2%, P < 0.0001). Compared with controls in univariate analyses, cases with GERD had more sinusitis (4.2% vs. 1.4%, P < 0.0001), laryngitis (0.7% vs. 0.2%), asthma (13.2% vs. 6.8%, P < 0.0001), pneumonia (6.3% vs. 2.3%, P < 0.0001), and bronchiectasis (1.0% vs. 0.1%, P < 0.0001). However, otitis media was less common in cases than controls (2.1% vs. 4.6%, P < 0.0001). After adjusting for differences in age, gender, and ethnicity in the regression analyses, GERD remained a significant risk factor for sinusitis (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.3; 95% confidence intervals [CI], 1.7-3.2; P < 0.0001), laryngitis (OR, 2.6; CI, 1.2-5.6; P = 0.0228), asthma (OR, 1.9; CI, 1.6-2.3; P < 0.0001), pneumonia (OR, 2.3; CI, 1.8-2.9; P < 0.0001), and bronchiectasis (OR, 2.3; CI, 1.1-4.6; P = 0.0193).
Conclusions: GERD in children without neurological defects is associated with a several-fold increase in the risk of sinusitis, laryngitis, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchiectasis. Further studies are needed to examine whether a cause-effect relationship exists between GERD and these disorders in children.