Course of Functional Abdominal Pain Before and During Pandemic

C Strisciuglio et al. JPGN 2021; 73: 689-694. Overall Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak in Children With Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders: Results From the First Pandemic Phase

In this multicenter, observational, international study conducted between April and July 2020 at six different referral centers, the authors studied two groups:

  1. Children diagnosed with FAPDs between October 2019 and February 2020 were enrolled and prospectively interviewed at 4 months of follow-up during the first pandemic phase (Quarantine group, n=180, mean age 14 yrs)
  2. A cohort of children diagnosed with FAPDs between October 2018 and February 2019 was used as a Control group, n=176, mean age 13 yrs)

Key findings:

  • At 4 months of follow-up, both groups had a significant reduction of children reporting >5 episodes of abdominal pain per month when compared to baseline. Quarantine group: 63.9% vs 42.2%, P < 0.001; Control group: 83.5% vs 50%, P < 0.001.
  • Overall, 57% of the Quarantine group and 63.5% of the Control group had improvement of all symptoms.

My take: This study shows that the majority of patients with functional abdominal pain have improvement (at least temporarily) and reinforce the benefit of reassurance/conservative approach for many even during the pandemic. It is possible that school closures and additional parental attention mitigated some of the improvement in the Quarantine group.

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