J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2023 Aug 23. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000003927. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Fungal esophagitis (FE) is the most common cause of esophageal infection and its prevalence in immunocompetent adults is rising. However, there is minimal data on FE in children without human immunodeficiency virus. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, symptoms, endoscopic appearances and predictive factors of FE in children, regardless of immune status.

Methods: A 2010-2020 retrospective case-control study was conducted on 1823 children presenting to Sydney Children's Hospital for elective endoscopy with esophageal biopsy. Histopathology reports were reviewed to identify FE cases and determine prevalence rates. 32 patients with FE were age- and sex-matched (1:2) to 64 controls. Significant symptoms and risk factors of FE were identified via univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: ;The prevalence of FE in children was 1.76%. Common symptoms included dysphagia (25%), heartburn (25%), poor oral intake (21.9%), vomiting (18.8%), cough (15.6%), nausea (12.5%) and weight-loss (9.4%). No significant differences in symptoms were found between cases and controls. On endoscopy, although white plaques were associated with FE (p<0.001), visually-normal findings were reported in 28.1% of cases. Topical swallowed corticosteroids were a significant independent risk factor for FE (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=10.740, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.213-95.101, p=0.033).

Conclusions: The prevalence of FE in this pediatric cohort reflects rates amongst immunocompetent adults. Given that many of these children presented with a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms, esophageal biopsy is required to accurately diagnose FE. Pediatricians should consider the risk of FE when prescribing topical swallowed corticosteroids.