The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American College of Gastroenterology 2021 Annual Meeting , held from October 22 to 27, 2021. The team at Gastroenterology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in gastroenterology. Check back for more from ACG 2021.


Study data presented at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2021 Annual Meeting, held from October 22 to 27, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada and virtually, describe sex disparities in the prevalence and risk for psychiatric comorbidities among pediatric and adolescent patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs).

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Investigators searched the Pediatric Health Information System database for all patients aged 5 to 18 years who received care at children’s hospitals around the United States between 2016 and 2020. Eligible patients had at least 1 of the following FGID diagnoses: abdominal migraine, functional dyspepsia, cyclical vomiting syndrome, aerophagia, irritable bowel syndrome, functional constipation, functional diarrhea, fecal incontinence, or spasm of sphincter of Oddi.

The primary outcome was concomitant diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder. Analyses excluded patients with functional constipation only due to significant overrepresentation in the dataset. 

The analytic cohort consisted of 63,601 unique patients with FGIDs, among whom approximately 51.2% were boys and 48.8% were girls. The overall prevalence of psychiatric illness was 37.3%.

Overall prevalence was higher among girls vs boys (37.9% vs 36.8%, respectively; P =.003). In adjusted regression models, however, boys were more likely to have comorbid psychiatric disorders compared with girls (odds ratio [OR], 1.14; 95% CI, 1.10-1.18).

In childhood, boys had higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities, while in late adolescence, girls experienced higher rates. Boys more commonly presented with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pervasive developmental disorder, and intellectual disability, while girls were more commonly diagnosed with anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidality.

These data may be helpful in targeting psychiatric interventions for young patients with FGIDs. “Recognizing these key differences is critical for appropriate screening and therapeutic interventions to ensure improved quality of life,” the investigators concluded.

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Thavamani A, Khatana J, Umapathi KK, Velayuthan S, Sankararaman S. Gender differences in psychiatric comorbidities among pediatric and adolescent patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. Presented at: ACG 2021 Annual Meeting; October 22-27, 2021; Las Vegas, NV and virtual. Abstract P0877.