Is a Three Year-Old Too Young for Bariatric Surgery?

Maybe not.

Recent article from WSJ (from Jeff Schwimmer’s twitter feed): http://online.wsj.com/news/article_

Here is an excerpt:

Daifailluh al-Bugami was just a year old when his parents noticed that his lips turned blue as he slept at night. It was his weight, doctors said, putting pressure on his delicate airways.

Now Daifailluh is 3, and at 61 pounds he is nearly double the typical weight of a child his age. So the Bugamis are planning the once unthinkable: To have their toddler undergo bariatric surgery to permanently remove part of his stomach in hopes of reducing his appetite and staving off a lifetime of health problems.

That such a young child would be considered for weight-loss surgery—something U.S. surgeons generally won’t do—underscores the growing health crisis here and elsewhere in the Middle East. Widespread access to unhealthy foods, coupled with sedentary behavior brought on by wealth and the absence of a dieting and exercise culture, have caused obesity levels in Saudi Arabia and many other Gulf states to approach or even exceed those in Western countries…

Daifailluh’s doctor, Aayed Alqahtani, is a leading advocate of a radical approach to the problem. Patients travel to him from across the country and the Gulf region. Over the past seven years, he has performed bariatric surgery on nearly 100 children under the age of 14, which experts on the procedure believe is the largest number performed by one doctor on young children… “We should not deprive our patients from bariatric surgery based on their age alone,” the surgeon says. “If they have [medical] conditions that threaten their lives, then we should not deny the bariatric surgery…”

Pediatric surgeons in the U.S. say they also are facing demands from families to operate on younger patients. Thomas Inge, surgical director of the Surgical Weight Loss Program for Teens at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, says he will be operating on a 12-year-old later this month. He says that as younger and younger children are referred for consideration of surgery, care teams will need to carefully weigh the pros and cons…

Many doctors say they aren’t ready to follow Dr. Alqahtani yet. Kirk Reichard, chairman of the pediatric-surgery committee for the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, notes that there are no data to show that surgery doesn’t affect young children’s long-term sexual maturation or cognitive functioning.

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5 thoughts on “Is a Three Year-Old Too Young for Bariatric Surgery?

  1. Pingback: Leptin Deficiency and Early-Onset Extreme Obesity | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Reaching Consensus on Bariatric Intervention in Children and Adolescents | gutsandgrowth

  3. Pingback: Should Teenagers with Severe NAFLD Undergo Bariatric Surgery? | gutsandgrowth

  4. Pingback: Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Outcomes at 3 Years | gutsandgrowth

  5. Pingback: Bariatric Surgery and Reversal of NASH | gutsandgrowth

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