Epidemiology of uninvestigated gastrointestinal symptoms in adolescents: A population-based study applying the Rome II questionnaire

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Objectives: Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in early life contribute to a lower quality of life and more persistent GI symptoms during the rest of life. Epidemiologic data on adolescence GI disorders are scarce. We aimed to perform a population-based study to assess the prevalence of GI symptoms in adolescents and their relation to sex, age, and socioeconomic status. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A multistage random sample of Tehran middle and high school students (ages 14-19 years) was selected. A validated Persian version of the Rome II questionnaire was used to measure the frequency of different GI disorders as well as demographic socioeconomic variables. Results: A total of 1436 participants were enrolled in the study, 736 (51.3%) of whom were men. Mean (SD) age was 16.9 (1.8) years. The frequency of at least 1 GI symptom was 32.4%. The 4 most prevalent GI symptoms were bloating (16.9%), heartburn (4.9%), incontinence (4.3%), and irritable bowel syndrome (4.1%). Bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and proctalgia fugax were significantly more common in girls (P < 0.05). Incontinence was significantly more prevalent in lower socioeconomic status levels (P = 0.01). In logistic regression, age was a risk factor for abdominal bloating and dysphagea and a protective factor for incontinence. Conclusions: Our study indicates that GI symptoms are common among adolescents. Girls are more prone to these disorders. Special psychological and medical interventions are necessary for high-risk groups. © 2010 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

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