About gutsandgrowth

I am a pediatric gastroenterologist at GI Care for Kids (previously called CCDHC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The goal of my blog is to share some of my reading in my field more broadly. In addition, I wanted to provide my voice to a wide range of topics that often have inaccurate or incomplete information. Before starting this blog in 2011, I would tear out articles from journals and/or keep notes in a palm pilot. This blog helps provide an updated source of information that is easy to access and search, along with links to useful multimedia sources. I was born and raised in Chattanooga. After graduating from the University of Virginia, I attended Baylor College of Medicine. I completed residency and fellowship training at the University of Cincinnati at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center. I received funding from the National Institutes of Health for molecular biology research of the gastrointestinal tract. I have authored numerous publications/presentations including original research, case reports, review articles, and textbook chapters on various pediatric gastrointestinal problems. Currently, I am the chair of the section of nutrition for the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, I am an adjunct Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. Other society memberships have included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food Allergy Network, the American Gastroenterology Association, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. As part of a national pediatric GI organization called NASPGHAN (and its affiliated website GIKids) I have helped develop educational materials on a wide-range of gastrointestinal and liver diseases which are used across the country. Also, I have been an invited speaker for national campaigns to improve the evaluation and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, celiac disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some information on these topics has been posted at my work website, www.gicareforkids.com, which has links to multiple other useful resources. I am fortunate to work at GI Care For Kids. Our group has 16 physicians with a wide range of subspecialization, including liver diseases, feeding disorders, eosinophilic diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, DiGeorge/22q, celiac disease, and motility disorders. Many of our physicians are recognized nationally for their achievements. For many families, more practical matters include the following: – 14 office/satellite locations – physicians who speak Spanish – cutting edge research – on-site nutritionists – on-site psychology support for abdominal pain and feeding disorders – participation in ImproveCareNow – office endoscopy suite (lower costs and easier scheduling) – office infusion center (lower costs and easier for families) – easy access to nursing advice (each physician has at least one nurse) I am married and have two sons. I like to read, walk/hike, exercise, swim, and play tennis with my free time as well as go to baseball games. I do not have any financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies or other financial relationships to disclose. I have participated in industry-sponsored research studies.

How Often is Arthritis a Presenting Feature of Pediatric IBD & How to Make the Right Diagnosis

A recent retrospective study (R Levy et al. J Pediatr 2019; 209: 233-5) analyzed the musculoskeletal presenting manifestations of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In their cohort of 715 patients with IBD, 137 had arthritis and/or arthralgia.  28 of these 137 patients (3.9% of total cohort) had arthritis preceding the diagnosis of IBD and were eligible for this study.  Only 23 had complete data and were compared with 46 children with arthritis due to JIA (n=21), FMF (n=7), and postinfectious arthritis (n=18).

Key findings:

  • Patients with subsequent IBD diagnosis were more likely to have sacroiliac involvement (34.8% vs. 2.2%), more likely to have anemia (mean hgb 10.5 vs 12), more likely to have low albumin (mean 3.5 vs 4.3) and to have higher inflammatory markers (ESR 81 vs 46; CRP 6.6 vs 4.5 mg/dL)
  • In patients with calprotectin levels, 5 of 6 were >300 mg/kg and one was borderline
  • On direct questioning at time of IBD diagnosis, prolonged gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, aphthous ulcers) were evident in 78%.
  • 4 of the 23 (17.3%) were diagnosed with IBD during the primary investigation. Ultimately, Crohn’s diagnosis was established in 87% of the IBD group.

My take: This study is important for pediatricians and rheumatologists. ~4% of children presenting with arthritis have IBD.  Careful interrogation for GI symptoms (and perianal exam) will avoid diagnostic delay in most patients as would a stool calprotectin. Features like sacroileitis, and abnormal labs should also increase the suspicion for IBD.

Briefly noted: In a study discussing pediatrician beliefs about JIA (MR Pavo, J de Inocencio, J Pediatr 2019; 209: 236-9) there is an important caveat for GI doctors:

“It is clear that booster vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, or varicella zoster virus, can be considered in patients receiving < 15 mg/m-squared/week of MTX [methotrexate]”  (Pediatr Rheumatol Online J 2018; 16: 46).

Related blog post:

  • IBD Update Feb 2019 -last entry shows study indicating that patients with IBD and arthritis were more likely to require biologics.

Calprotectin:

El Retiro Park, Madrid

 

Good Nutrition News in Our Schools –Why Not a Press Release?

Washington Post: Why is the USDA downplaying good news

An excerpt:

The best news was that the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010), a multicomponent measure of diet quality, shot up dramatically for both school-provided breakfasts and lunches.

For the 2009-2010 school year, the score for breakfast was an abysmal 49.6 out of 100 (even lower than the overall American average of 59), rising to 71.3 by the 2014-2015 school year. In that same time frame, the lunch score went from 57.9 to 81.5. The score for whole grains in school meals went from 25 to 95 percent of the maximum score, and the score for greens and beans rose from 21 to 72 percent.

In addition, there was greater participation in school meal programs at schools with the highest healthy food standards. And the study found food waste, a troubling national problem in the lunchroom, remained relatively unchanged.

The 52-page summary of study findings is chockablock with other good news, so why isn’t Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue crowing about it?…

In December, Perdue announced the USDA was weakening school nutrition standards for whole grain, nonfat milk and sodium, all of which had been tightened during the Obama administration. He cited food waste and nonparticipation as key rationales for the shift

 

How Does the U.S Compare to African Nations in HIV Treatment?

A recent commentary (WM El-Sadr et al. NEJM 2019; 380; 1985-7) shows how poorly we are doing in our efforts to diagnose and treat HIV in this country and what we need to do to make progress in eliminating HIV.

Overall, the U.S. overall viral suppression rate, which is the percentage of all people with HIV in whom the virus is suppressed, is only 51%.  In contrast, the rates for Nambia, Uganda, and Zambia are 75%, 55%, and 50% respectively (U.S. measures use slightly different denominators than other countries.)

From NEJM twitter feed: AIDS in America –Back in the Headlines at Long Last

Link to Podcast: Ending the U.S. HIV Epidemic

Ursodeoxycholic Acid in Pediatric Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

A large retrospective study (M Deneau, M Perito, A Ricciuto, N Gupta et al. J Pediatr 2019; 209: 92-6) examined the outcomes/response of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) for pediatric primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

Background:

  • “Within 10 years of diagnosis, 30% of children with PSC will require liver transplantation and 50% of children will develop complications, including biliary strictures and hypertension.”
  • Because UDCA has not been shown to improve survival (& may worsen outcomes), it is not recommended in adults by the AASLD.
  • In pediatrics, UDCA remains the most common treatment, used in more that 80% on long-term treatment

Study population/methods:

  • 263 patients at 46 centers
  • Median age 12.1 years
  • UDCA median dose: 15 mg/kg/day

Key findings:

  • Normalization of GGT (<50 IU/L) occurred in 46% of patients in the first year after diagnosis
  • Patients with normalization was less likely among patients with Crohn’s disease and those with laboratory profiles indicative of more advanced hepatobiliary fibrosis (eg. lower platelet count, lower albumin, hyperbilirubinemia)
  • The 5-year survival with native liver was 99% in those who achieved normalization vs 77% in those who did not
  • Even in those without normalization, improvement in GGT was associated with better outcomes. “Those who had a reduction in GGT of >75% had nearly the same long-term survival as those with GGT<50 IU/L at 1 year.”
  • It has previously been shown that nearly “one-third of children who are UDCA-naive have spontaneous GGT normalization by 1 year.”  Thus, the number to treat with UDCA to have one additional case of GGT normalization is four.
  • In a previous study, one-third of patients with GGT normalization on UDCA therapy for 1 year, maintained GGT <29 after withdrawal of UDCA for 12 weeks.

The authors note that “patients who do not achieve normalization could reasonably stop UDCA as they are likely not receiving clinical benefit.”

My take: This study shows that patients who have improvement/normalization of GGT with UDCA therapy have improved outcomes.  The retrospective design of the study limits conclusions about whether UDCA therapy actually improves long-term outcomes, particularly since UDCA at higher doses has been associated with detrimental affects in adults with PSC.

Related blog posts:

Pablo Picasso, Le Compotier (Fruit Bowl) at Sofia Reina
https://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection/artwork/compotier-fruit-bowl

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Early Life Events and the Development of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Full Text via AGA Journal Link: Events Within the First Year of Life, but Not the Neonatal Period, Affect Risk for Later Development of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

A recent study (CN Bernstein et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 2190-7; editorial 2124) delves into the topic of early life risk factors for the development of IBD. In the background, the author note that in 2018, 267,983 Canadians (0.73%) were estimated to be living with IBD and there is a forecast that this will increase to 402,853 by 2030.

This study used a Manitoba database and examined the records of individuals diagnosed with between 1984-2010. In addition, they correlated this data with individual data of the postnatal period between 1970-2010. From this database, they analyzed 825 individuals with IBD and 5999 matched controls.

Key Findings:

  • The strongest risk factor for the development of IBD was a maternal diagnosis of IBD with an odds ratio (OR) of 4.53; the OR was higher for CD at 5.98 compared to OR of 2.71 for UC
  • Infections in the first year of life was associated with an OR of 3.06 for IBD diagnosed before age 10 years, and OR of 1.63 for IBD diagnosis before age 20 years.  Only infections in the first year of life were correlated with IBD as infections during the first 3 years of life were not associated with a significant increased risk.
  • While infections in the first year of life were associated with an increase risk of IBD, the authors could not demonstrate that individuals who developed IBD had more infections than unaffected sibling controls (though they did have more infections than the entire control cohort).
  • Highest socioeconomic quintile, also, had an increased OR of 1.35.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses (like abdominal pain) were not found to be associated with the later development of IBD.

It is unclear whether infections in early life increase the risk of IBD or whether other factors like antibiotics contribute to the higher rate of IBD.  The authors did not find more immunodeficiency disorders in the IBD cohort compared to controls.

My take: This study identified genetic risk as substantially greater than specific environmental risks.  However, the increasing incidence of IBD suggests that environmental factors are quite significant, as genetic risk factors are less likely to change enough to account for the changes in epidemiology.  As such, there are a few explanations:

  1. There are other unidentified environment risk factors
  2. Some individuals are more susceptible to the changes that have occurred in the environment; that is, their environmental exposures are not significantly different from their peers but are significantly different than individuals from 20, 40, 60 and 100 years ago.

From AGA Journal link

Related blog posts: