Objectives: To determine the prevalence and incidence of a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in children and adolescents in UK primary care, and to assess comorbidities that are associated with a diagnosis of GERD.
Material and methods: Incident GERD cases during 2000-05 were identified from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) UK primary care database via a computer search for diagnostic codes for GERD, followed by manual review of the patient records.
Results: We identified 1700 children with a first diagnosis of GERD during 2000-05. The incidence of GERD was 0.84 per 1000 person-years. The incidence decreased with age from 1.48 per 1000 person-years among 1-year-old children until the age of 12 years, whereupon it increased to a maximum at 16-17 years of 2.26 per 1000 person-years for girls and 1.75 per 1000 person-years for boys. Pregnant adolescents were not included in the study. In addition to typical GERD symptoms (epigastric pain, heartburn, reflux, regurgitation), 21.2% of children reported nausea or vomiting. Children with neurological disorders were at increased risk of a GERD diagnosis. Hiatus hernia and congenital esophageal disorders were also associated with a diagnosis of GERD. Children and adolescents using antiepileptics, oral/inhaled steroids, beta-agonists and paracetamol had an increased risk of a GERD diagnosis.
Conclusions: The incidence of a GERD diagnosis was age-dependent and was highest among very young children and older female adolescents. Children with neurological impairments and other comorbidities were at increased risk of a GERD diagnosis.