In infancy, gut physiology and function are still developing and maturing. This may cause variable combination of GI signs and symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals that have no obvious structural or biochemical reasons. These are defined as Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs).1
In infants and toddlers, there are seven recognized FGIDs:1,2
|Reported Worldwide Prevalence (%)
|Cyclic vomiting syndrome
|Infant rumination syndrome
From birth to 6 months of age, more than half of infants display at least one FGID symptom.2,3 Regurgitation, infantile colic and functional constipation are the most common FGIDs in the first year of life whereas functional diarrhea, dyschezia, rumination syndrome and cyclic vomiting syndrome occur less frequently.2,4
Internationally agreed diagnostic criteria for FGIDs were first published in 1989 and these Rome criteria have been regularly updated, most recently in 2016.1
The ROME IV diagnostic criteria –
| Recommendation for HMF: Whom to start –
|Must include –
|Must include infants aged up to 4 years-
FGIDs in general, and excessive crying in particular, may be extremely distressing for families and create possibilities to damage the relationships between parents and their children.5
FGIDs and related symptoms have been suggested to have the following impacts –
- More postpartum maternal depressive symptoms.6
- Tiredness and fatigue in mothers.7
- Suboptimal social and emotional behavior of mothers during feeding.8
- Early breastfeeding cessation.9
- Parental insecurity, anxiety & stress.7,10
- Loss of parental working days.11
- Suboptimal mother and father-child interaction.12
- Less positive social behavior of infants with their mothers; mothers less involved and less responsive to the positive signals of the infants.13
- Challenges in quality of life of the family.14
Apart from disturbing family interaction, wellbeing and quality of life, FGIDs and related symptoms impact personal and public healthcare expenses significantly. These include –
- Visits to healthcare professionals
- Costs of prescribed treatments.
- Over-the-counter or home remedies.
- Loss of income for parents who had to take time off work.15
FGIDs and related signs and symptoms have been suggested to have the following long – term health impacts –
- Higher prevalence of FGIDs later in life. It has been seen that 28% of infants with colic develop GI problems by the age of 13 years.16
- More frequent abdominal pain.17
- Sleeping problems later in life.17
- Behavioral problems such as more difficulty with emotional regulation, frequent temper tantrums, or a more impulsive cognitive style.17
To conclude, the FGIDs and related symptoms are likely to have immediate as well as long-term impacts. Improved and proper management of FGIDS may help in controlling the scenario to a great extent.
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