Eosinophilic esophagitis in children under the age of 5 years: Clinical characteristics

Laryngoscope. 2018 Apr;128(4):798-805. doi: 10.1002/lary.26838. Epub 2017 Sep 2.


Objectives/hypothesis: To delineate clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) in the youngest of children.

Study design: Retrospective chart review.

Methods: A 7-year retrospective chart review of children with clinicopathologic diagnosis of EoE was performed with specific analysis of patients under 5 years old. EoE was defined as the presence of symptoms of esophageal dysfunction with pathologically proven eosinophilic inflammation (≥15 eosinophils per high-power field [EOS/HPF]) unresponsive to reflux therapy. Patient parameters and clinical results were systematically reviewed.

Results: Of 558 children diagnosed with EoE, 127 (22.8%) were younger than 5 years old (mean age 2.5 years). This subgroup presented with reflux symptoms (90.1%), vomiting (86.2%), diarrhea (55.3%), liquid dysphagia (52.0%), and constipation (50.0%), whereas food impaction (1.6%) was rare. Liquid dysphagia was present at all ages but significantly more common in younger children (P = .0101). The most common food and environmental allergens were egg whites (39.7%), cow's milk (36.5%), peanuts (34.9%), animal dander (15.1%), and weed pollen (11.1%). Patients were managed with antireflux medication (100%), elimination diet (83.5%), and steroid medication (68.5%). After treatment, 86% of parents reported symptom improvement. Mean reduction of EOS in pos-treatment biopsy was 33.5 EOS/HPF (P < .0001), and 67 patients showed histologic resolution of EoE (56.8%, P < .0001).

Conclusions: Approximately one-quarter of children with EoE present under 5 years of age with multiple esophageal symptoms, comorbidities, and allergen-sensitization profiles. These patients demonstrate substantial clinicohistologic improvement following therapy.

Level of evidence: 4. Laryngoscope, 128:798-805, 2018.

Keywords: Eosinophilic esophagitis; atopy; children; dysphagia; pediatric; reflux.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / complications
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / immunology
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / pathology*
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vomiting / etiology