Prevalence of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children and Adolescents

J Pediatr. 2016 Oct;177:39-43.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.04.008. Epub 2016 May 4.


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (FGIDs) in children and adolescents in a representative community sample of the US.

Study design: The study recruited a general population sample of mothers (n = 949) of children and adolescents aged 4-18 years. Child and adolescent GI symptoms were assessed using parental report through online questionnaires, including the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms and the PedsQL4.0 Generic Core Scale. Parental GI symptoms, and demographic characteristics were also assessed. The data was used to determine prevalence of FGIDs.

Results: Using Rome III criteria by parental report, 23.1% of children and adolescents qualified for at least 1 FGID. Functional constipation and abdominal migraine were the most common FGIDs. All 10 child/adolescent FGIDs occurred, except rumination. Significant prevalence differences were not found between sexes, except in functional constipation, which was more prevalent in males than females (P = .022). There were no significant prevalence differences between racial or ethnic groups. Children who met criteria for an FGID had lower quality of life (median = 76.4) than children who did not (median = 89.6; P < .001). Children were more likely to qualify for a FGID if their parent also qualified for a FGID (P < .01).

Conclusions: FGIDs are common in children and adolescents in the US. There are no significant differences in FGIDs between sex, race, or ethnic groups, except in functional constipation. There is overlap between parental and child FGID symptoms. Children with a FGID report a lower quality of life than healthy children.

Keywords: abdominal migraine; aerophagia; cyclic vomiting syndrome; functional abdominal pain; functional constipation; functional dyspepsia; functional gastrointestinal disorders; irritable bowel syndrome; nonretentive fecal incontinence; quality of life; rumination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology