Objectives: Our purpose was to study the relation between gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and esophagitis in infants with persistent distress.
Study design: Infants (n = 125, 79 boys; median age, 4.2 months) with persistent distress and clinical symptoms suggestive of GER and esophagitis were retrospectively studied. All had undergone esophageal 24-hour pH monitoring and had upper gastrointestinal biopsy specimens taken.
Results: There were 65 (48%) infants with inflammatory changes found in at least one upper gastrointestinal biopsy specimen, of whom 32 (25.6%) had esophagitis; 11 infants with esophagitis also had gastritis or duodenitis. Although infants with frequent regurgitation (n = 65) had significantly more frequent GER episodes per 24 hours (P <.03) and greater fractional reflux time (P <.001) than infants without, this was not associated with histologic esophagitis (P =.33). Of the 32 infants with esophagitis, 9 had abnormal pH monitoring and 23 had nonreflux esophagitis. A separate group of 23 infants had abnormal pH monitoring but no esophagitis. Diagnostic agreement between pH monitoring and esophageal histologic features was poor (kappa = 0.07).
Conclusion: Esophagitis occurred in one quarter of infants with persistent distress. Abnormal esophageal pH monitoring did not reliably predict esophagitis, suggesting a nonacid peptic cause in some of these infants.