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 15 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.

20-Year Follow-up of Statins in Children

A recent study (IK Luirink et al. NEJM 2019; 381: 1547-56) examined the effects of statin therapy in children with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) who were followed for 20 years. At baseline, the median age was 13 years in the treated cohort and in their sibling control group.  184 of 214 (86%) of patients with FH were seen in follow-up and 77 of 95 (81%) of siblings.

Key findings:

  • The mean LDL cholesterol had decreased from 237 to 161 mg/dL
  • LDL target of <100 mg/dL was achieved in 37 patients (20%)
  • Mean progression of carotid intima-media thickness over the entire follow-up period was 0.0056 mm/year in patients with FH and 0.0057 mm/year in sibling controls
  • The cumulative incidence of cardiovascular events and death from cardiovascular causes at age 39 years was lower in the treated group compared to  their affected parents: 1% vs. 26% and 0% vs. 7% respectively

Discussion:

“This makes a strong case for not only ‘the lower the better’ but also for ‘the younger the better” as atherosclerotic disease is determined not only by the LDL level but also by cumulative exposure.

My take: This study provides convincing data that statin therapy prolongs health and life in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia.

Related blog posts:

IBD Updates December 2019

SR Gupta et al. JPGN 2019; 69: 544-50.  This article reports on preliminary experience in 54 children who received external (non-hospital) infliximab infusions. The average age was 17.6 years. The authors noted no serious safety concerns.  Prior to arranging these infusions, the authors insisted on the following:

  • Infusion services had to guarantee pediatric trained nurses with PALS certification
  • Emergency medications had to be available
  • A plan for emergency communication was arranged
  • Postinfusion communication would occur with each infusion

BN Limketkai et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25: 1828-37.  This study, using Truven Health MarketScan database (2007-16) reviewed proactive or reactive mucosal monitoring after biologic initiation in IBD.  Early (< 6 months) proactive monitoring (88% endoscopy-based) was performed in 11% (n=2195/19,899) of patients with Crohn’s and 12.8% (925/7247) of patients with ulcerative colitis.

  • “Early proactive monitoring was associated with a reduction in disease-related complications for CD (aHR 0.90) and UC (aHR 0.87) and predominantly driven by a reduction in corticosteroid use.”
  • Another interesting finding was that ~40% of patients had biologic therapy initiated without assessment of mucosal disease activity within 6 months.
  • The authors state that disease monitoring is typically more useful in CD than UC because with the latter, cessation of bleeding and diarrhea appear to be adequate surrogates.
  • This study was not able to assess whether a biomarker like fecal calprotectin would be suitable due to its low utilization.

RZ Cohen, BT Schoen, S Kugathasan, CG Sauer. JPGN 2019; 69: 551-6. In this chart review, the authors identified anti-drug antibodies (ADA) in 24.8% (n=58) of patients undergoing therapeutic drug monitoring (n=234) with both infliximab and adalimumab.  54% of this group had antibody suppression with dose optimization. Of note, 37 patients had detectable ADA at time of initial drug monitoring. Dose optimization was 10 mg/kg every 4 weeks with infliximab or 40 mg weekly with adalimumab. Patients who were switched to a second anti-TNF agent (n=23) were not more likely to develop ADA to the second agent (small sample size). Also, the authors caution that in the five patients with ADA levels (>10 U/mL), dose optimization failed and patients required a therapeutic switch. My take: This study provides some useful information about the frequency of ADA.  My view is that the actual drug level is more critical than the presence of ADA; though, the presence of high ADA often precludes the ability to deliver a therapeutic drug level.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  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.

More Details on Drug-Resistant E coli Transmitted by Fecal Microbiota Transplant

In June 2019, the FDA delivered a warning about the potential danger of transmitting drug-resistant E coli with fecal microbiota tranplantaion (FMT).  (FDA Warning for FMT)

A report on this issue has now been published: Z DeFilipp et al. NEJM 381: 2043-50, editorial M Blaser pgs 264-6.

The authors describe two patients, a 69 year-old with cirrhosis and a 73 year-old sp stem cell transplantation, who developed bacteremia due to transmission of a drug-resistant (extended-spectrum beta-lactamase [ESBL]) E coli following FMT which was delivered by oral capsules. The latter patient died from sepsis. The two patients had a genomicly-identical strain isolated that was also found in the donated aliquot.

In the commentary, a couple of important points:

  • “Up to now, the complications have been infrequent [from FMT], and for recurrent C difficile infection, the benefits of FMT clearly outweigh the risks; however, as the use of FMT is broadened and more compromised patients are treated, complications may be more frequently observed.”
  • “In the short term, improved and uniform screening of FMT material is needed to reduce the risks.”

My take: Both of these patients who became developed bacteremia were at risk for more severe infections.  However, we need to remain aware that severe complications can and do occur with FMT.  In context, though, there are risks of severe complications from routine use of antibiotics as well.

Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City

Only 3% Make It Through the Donor Screening Process for Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

A recent letter (Z Kassam et al. NEJM 2019; 381: 2070-2) describes the arduous process involved in being selected as a stool donor for fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).

In a previous blog (2015), it appeared that 17% of donors were accepted for FMT: Rejected! Most Stool is Not Good Enough for FMT This current review of the donor program from a stool bank (OpenBiome) prospectively evaluated 15,317 donor candidates from 2014-2018.

Key finding:

  • Only 3% (n=386) made it through all the steps to become donors

Reasons for exclusion:

Stage 1: common reasons for exclusion:

  • geographical -living too far away to donate regularly
  • BMI >30
  • social history
  • travel history
  • not in age range

Stage 2: “failing” the 200-item clinical assessment –common reasons for exclusion:

  • lost to followup
  • allergic disorders/asthma
  • receiving medications/supplements
  • mental health concerns
  • infectious disease history
  • social history/sexual history/other reasons

Stage 3: “failing” the stool and nasal screening which included (in 2016) carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacea (CRE), extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing organisms (ESBL) and MRSA. –common reasons for exclusion:

  • lost to followup
  • infectious disorders (including C diff in 7 patients)

Stage 4: “failing” serological screening

  • lost to followup
  • abnormal LFTs, CBC or infection

Related blog posts:

Island Ford, Sandy Springs, GA

How Genetics Influence Response to PPIs in Eosinophilic Esophagitis

About two years ago, James Franciosi presented research at NASPGHAN meeting indicating that the main difference between children with eosiniophilic esophagitis (EoE) who respond to proton pump inhibitiors (PPIs) compared to those who do not was related to their metabolism of PPIs and not related to the nature of their underlying EoE.

Related blog: #NASPGHAN17 Eosionophilic Esophagitis Session

Now, more has been published on this topic: EB Mougey et al. JPGN 2019; 69: 581-7.

In this study with 92 patients, data was collected from participants in a prospective clinical trial of high-dose PPI for EoE.

Key findings:

  • 57 (62%) were responsive to PPIs and 35 (38%) were not responsive to PPIs
  • Carriage of STAT6 allele variant rs1059513 predicted responsiveness to PPIs with OR of 6.16
  • Carriage of STAT6 rs324011 synergizes with CYP2C19*17 to predict PPI-nonresponsive EoE

Discussion: 

  • Carriers of CYP2C19*17 are more likely to fail PPIs for EoE.  Children with CYP2C19*17 gain of function “have a 7.7 fold better odds of failing PPI therapy” than noncarriers.
  • CYP2C19*17 effects “appears to be exerted within a specific range of PPI doses…and does not appear to exert influence at the low and high ends of this dose range.”
  • STAT6, which in this study is a cofactor, “upregulates transcription of CCL26 (eostaxin-3) 53-fold in esophageal eosinophilia relative to levels in peptic esophagitis and 490-fold over levels found in normal esophageal biopsies.”
  • PPIs effectiveness “does not correlate with esophageal” acid exposure; thus, its effects are mediated via an anti-inflammatory mechanism.

My take: This study indicates that genotype-guided dosing of PPIs for the treatment of EoE is likely to be worthwhile.

 

View from Yonah Mountain, GA

How Bad is Reflux in Children with Esophageal Atresia?

A recent retrospective study (FWT Vergouwe et al. JPGN 2019; 69: 515-22) with 57 children with esophageal atresia (EA) found most children have a normal reflux index.

This study, analyzing data between 2012-2017, reviewed all 24-hour pH-impedance (MII) studies in children at ≤18 months and 8 year olds with EA.  “All children with EA born in our hospital are offered a 24-hour pH-MII study at the age of 0.5 years and 8 years.”  In this institution, PPI treatment is given for at least 6 months after surgery. Of the 57 in the cohort, 20 had completed pH-MII at <18 months of age and 32 at age 8 years.

Key findings:

  • In children ≤18 months of age, median reflux index was 2.6% (abnormal in 2), median number of retrograde boluses was 61 (62% nonacid, 58% mixed)
  • In the older cohort (~8 years of age), median reflux index was 0.3% (abnormal in 4) and median number of retrograde boluses was 21 (64% nonacid, 75% mixed)
  • Overall, 10 of 57 children (17.5%) had GERD with reflux index >7% (n=6) or positive SI/SAP (n=4).  The authors note that much higher rates of GERD have been found in prior studies.  If they included children with fundoplication who were considered as having GERD (prior to fundoplication), then the GERD rate was 32%.

My take: This study showed that reflux in this cohort of children with EA was similar to the general population and likely indicates that a substantial portion of patients with EA do not need indefinite PPI therapy.  In children with more complex EA, PPI therapy is likely to be more beneficial.

Related blog posts:

Recent (November 4th) GI-Related Tweets:

Diabetes Mellitus Associated with Acute Recurrent and Chronic Pancreatitis

Briefly noted: MD Bellin et al. JPGN 2019; 69: 599-606.

Using the INSPPIRE database with 397 children with either acute recurrent pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis, the authors examined the frequency of diabetes mellitus (DM).

Key findings:

  •  6% (n=24) had a diagnosis of DM. This is 30-fold higher than the general pediatric population
  • The group with DM was more likely to have elevated triglycerides (OR 5.21) coexisting autoimmune disease (OR 3.94) or pancreatic atrophy (OR 3.64)
  • The group with DM tended to be older with a mean at first diagnosis of acute pancreatitis of 12.9 years compared to 8.7 years in those who did not develop DM

Related blog posts:

 

Frontenac Hotel, Quebec City