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 vice 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.

Nutrition4Kids and Nutrition4IBD

My colleague and partner, Stan Cohen, along with his outstanding advisory board, have put together two terrific (free) resources for both children and adults:

Both are up-to-date, user-friendly, authoritative and attractive websites that feature advice families can trust to help them understand their disease and options to live as full a life as possible. Between the two, there are:

  • Over 700 articles
    • Nutrition4Kids Categories: Eating at different ages, Healthy lifestyle, Nutrients, Diseases and disorders and Patient experience
    • Nutrition4IBD Categories: Understanding IBD, Treatment Options, Nutrition for IBD and Patient options.
  • Over 60 videos including 35 on food allergies (including FPIES and eosinophilic disorders) and 14 on tube-feedings, including one about a lacrosse player that is quite inspirational.
  • Amazing tools:
    • A food log and a symptom diary that patients can download to record how they are doing
    • a BMI calculator
    • a table of milk alternatives (created by our nutritionist Bailey Koch)
    • a tool which provides over 150,000 food labels for restaurant and packaged foods.
    • a cool tool where a patient can indicate their age, gender, whether they’re breastfeeding or pregnant (even which trimester they’re in), and it will tell what’s in over 200,000 foods and what nutrients and calories they need.
  • Healthy recipes with their nutrient values per serving.
  • This website relies on a group of 42 contributors including many from our group, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, dietitians, and families.
  • Other practices can link to our site, so they can share our medically-curated and accurate content and tools with their patient-families.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis -FAQs

A recent FAQ on Eosinophilic Esophagitis  Ronak Patel, MD  Ikuo Hirano, MD, AGAF: Full Text -GIHepNews (August 2020) Eosinophilic esophagitis: Frequently asked questions (and answers) for the early-career gastroenterologist

One aspect about this review that I liked was the dietary step-up –step-down therapy figure:

Reference: J Molina-Infante et al. J Allergy and Clincal Immunology. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2017.08.038 Step-up empiric elimination diet for pediatric and adult eosinophilic esophagitis: The 2-4-6 study Results:  A TFGED (2-food) achieved EoE remission in 56 (43%) patients, with no differences between ages. Food triggers in TFGED responders were milk (52%), gluten-containing grains (16%), and both (28%). EoE induced only by milk was present in 18% and 33% of adults and children, respectively. Remission rates with FFGEDs (4-food) and SFGEDs (6-food) were 60% and 79%, with increasing food triggers, especially after an SFGED. Overall, 55 (91.6%) of 60 of the TFGED/FFGED responders had 1 or 2 food triggers. Compared with the initial SFGED, a step-up strategy reduced endoscopic procedures and diagnostic process time by 20%.

Related blog posts:

How Many Biopsies Are Sufficient for Diagnosis of Microscopic Colitis?

Briefly noted: Microscopic colitis is much more frequent in adults than in children; nevertheless, it is often important to exclude. A recent study (B Virine et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2003-2009. Full text: Biopsies From Ascending and Descending Colon Are Sufficient for Diagnosis of Microscopic Colitis) indicates that biopsies can be limited to the ascending and descending colon.

Methods: This was a retrospective study using biopsies from 101 consecutive patients with MC (52 cases of collagenous colitis, 42 cases of lymphocytic colitis, 7 combined cases),

Key finding:

  • In this study, microscopic colitis was detected with 100% sensitivity by analyzing biopsy specimens from the ascending and descending colon

My take: The authors note that previous guidelines have suggested taking 8 biopsy specimens.  Their findings support taking much fewer biopsies.

Related blog post/related article:

 

IB-Stim (Neuro-Stim) for Adolescents with Irritable Bowel

A recent study (A Krasaelap et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1987-1994.  Efficacy of Auricular Neurostimulation in Adolescents With Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a Randomized, Double-Blind Trial) with data from a double-blind trial provides evidence of short-term (4 week) efficacy of auricular neurostimulation therapy (aka. IB-Stim or Neuro-Stim).

Key findings:

  • The IB-Stim group (n=27, median age 15 years) had a ≥30% reduction in abdominal pain in 59% compared to 26% of the sham group (n=23)
  • A symptom response scale score of 2 or more was observed in 82% of patients who received IB-Stim vs 26% of patients in the sham group ( P ≤ .001)

Discussion points:

  • The authors indicate that the NNT for IB-Stim is 3 compared to 6-14 for other medical therapies (lubiprostone, linaclotide, and rifaximin)
  • The effects of IB-Stim were NOT sustained at follow-up 8-12 weeks and there was no significant improvment in functional disability or anxiety.  “The lack of long-term effect…likely reflects insufficient statistical power.”  The authors indicate that longer or repeated courses could be needed

My take: This study indicates that IB-Stim can be helpful, at least in the short term, for adolescents with IBS.  More studies showing long-term benefit would be helpful.

Related blog posts:

COVID-19 Toll on U.S. Children

From AAP News: AAP Report: 513,415 children diagnosed with COVID-19

  • The latest report shows a rate of 680 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 children.
  • Children make up 9.8% of the total cases and about 1.7% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations, up from 0.8% of hospitalizations in late May.
  • Roughly 1.9% of children diagnosed with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, according to data from the 23 states and New York City that are publicly reporting hospitalization data.
  • There also have been at least 103 pediatric deaths in 42 states and New York City, making up about 0.07% of all COVID-19 deaths. Roughly 0.02% of children who have contracted known cases of COVID-19 have died.
  • There have been 792 confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children in 42 states, New York City and Washington, D.C., and 16 death

Why Celiac Serology Needs To Be Looked At Differently in Children with Type 1 Diabetes

A recent study (M Wessels et al. J Pediatr 2020; 223: 87-92Raising the Cut-Off Level of Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies to Detect Celiac Disease Reduces the Number of Small Bowel Biopsies in Children with Type 1 Diabetes: A Retrospective Study) recommends changing the approach to celiac disease (CD) diagnosis in children with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM).

Background: The prevalence of CD among patients with T1DM is between 3-10%

Using a retrospective observational cohort with 63 children, the authors recommend raising the cut-off from performing biopsies from 3 times the ULN to 11 times ULN.

Here’s why:

  • This change in increases the specificity from 36% to 73% while reducing sensitivity from 96% to 87%.  In addition, this improves the positive predictive value from 88% to 94%, but lowered negative predictive value from 67% to 53%.  Overall, this leads to a reduction in “unnecessary biopsies.”
  • The authors note that while the serology sensitivity is reduced, it is still acceptable and justified because “normalization of elevated TG2A  can occur in up to one-third of patients.”
  • Another finding from this cohort was that 55% of children with Marsh 0 or 1 histology were symptomatic, indicating that symptoms are not specific for CD.

While the authors have recommended a higher threshold and advocated for repeating serology ~3 months later in those with lower titers, the associated editorial by Stefano Guandalini makes the following points:

  1. Raising the titer threshold would leave 13% of patients with celiac disease undiagnosed (or at least with a delay in diagnosis)
  2. “For lower titers, the physician will have to apply his or her knowledge and conscience in each individual case…we must be mindful of the serious risk of missing too many patients with celiac disease by applying a high threshold, a risk probably outweighing that of an unnecessary biopsy.”

My take: This study shows that in children with T1DM who have abnormal lower-value celiac serology, a careful discussion with parents is needed about the merits of endoscopy or deferring until persistent positivity.

Related blog posts:

Taken near Hunley bridge, Isle of Palms, SC

IBD Update -September 2020

EM Kim et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1232-38. Mucosal Eosinophilia Is an Independent Predictor of Vedolizumab Efficacy in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases n=65 patients. In IBD cohort, colonic eosinophilia (340 +/- 156 vs 236 +/- 124) was associated with clinical non-response to vedolizumab (as was prior anti-TNF treatment). In those with ulcerative colitis, mean eosinophil count was 438 in nonresponders compared to 299 in responders. In those with Crohn’s disease, colonic biopsies showed a non-significant increase in eosinophil count in non-responders compared to responders: 352 vs. 232.

MA Sofia et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1251-9. Poor Sleep Quality in Crohn’s Disease Is Associated With Disease Activity and Risk for Hospitalization or Surgery

  • Ninety-two CD and 82 control subjects
  • Crohn’s disease subjects with Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) >5 more often had inflammatory phenotypes and reported increased benzodiazepine and psychiatric medication use. Crohn’s disease subjects with PSQI >5 also reported more night awakenings due to pain and bathroom use.
  • The PSQI correlated with HBI
  • PSQI >8 was predictive of surgery or hospitalization (hazards ratio 5.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-27.54).

My take: This study indicates that poor sleep is a marker for increased adverse outcomes/disease activity.  It may be that sleep disturbance is due to increased disease activity or this may be a bidirectional issue in which poor sleep triggers more disease activity as well.

A Ricciuto et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1509-1517. Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis in Children With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Is Associated With Milder Clinical Activity But More Frequent Subclinical Inflammation and Growth Impairment

This retrospective study provides additional information on the observation that children with PSC often have subclinical disease; it is similar to a prospective study by the same group in 2018 (n=37):  (prior blog post: Active Colitis More Likely in Children in Clinical Remission Who Have IBD and PSC) Key finding: Higher proportions of children with PSC-IBD had backwash ileitis, pancolitis, and rectal sparing, and more severe right-sided disease, than controls (P < .05). Conclusions: “Despite the mild clinical activity of IBD in patients with PSC, lack of symptoms does not always indicate lack of mucosal inflammation. Children with PSC-IBD have greater growth impairments compared with children with ulcerative colitis or IBD-unclassified.”

Briefly noted: COVID-19 Cardiac Toxicity, U.S. Pandemic Research, Air-Bus Transmission

VO Puntmann et al. JAMA Cardiol. Published online July 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3557. Full text: Outcomes of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients Recently Recovered From Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Conclusion:  In this study of a cohort of German patients recently recovered from COVID-19 infection, CMR revealed cardiac involvement in 78 patients (78%) and ongoing myocardial inflammation in 60 patients (60%), independent of preexisting conditions, severity and overall course of the acute illness, and time from the original diagnosis. These findings indicate the need for ongoing investigation of the long-term cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19.

NY Times: E Emanuel et al.  Where Is America’s Groundbreaking Covid-19 Research? The U.S. could learn a lot from Britain.

Excerpt: “ Yet with over six million coronavirus cases and 183,000 deaths, the United States has produced little pathbreaking clinical research on treatments to reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Even one of the most important U.S. studies to date, which showed that the antiviral drug remdesivir could reduce the time Covid-19 patients spent in the hospital to 11 days from about 15, had too few subjects to demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in mortality…[British] researchers found no benefits from the use of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, nor from the lopinavir-ritonavir drug combination. On the other hand, dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid, was found to reduce mortality by up to one-third in hospitalized patients with severe respiratory complications.” 

“Unfortunately, unlike Britain, the United States has lacked a clear, unified message from government health care leaders, major insurance companies and hospital systems to put in place large, simple randomized trials that are considered the standard of care for Covid-19 treatment. We need to change that muddled approach now and reassert the nation’s clinical research excellence.

NY Times: Roni Rabin. How a Bus Ride Turned Into a Coronavirus Superspreader Event

An excerpt: “A passenger on one of the buses had recently dined with friends from Hubei. She apparently did not know she carried the coronavirus. Within days, 23 fellow passengers on her bus were also found to be infected.

It did not matter how far a passenger sat from the infected individual on the bus, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Tuesday. Even passengers in the very last row of the bus, seven rows behind the infected woman, caught the virus…

The new study “adds strong epidemiological evidence that the virus is transmitted through the air, because if it were not, we would only see cases close to the index patient — but we see it spread throughout the bus,” said Linsey Marr…

[THIS]  took place on Jan. 19, when there were still no confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in Ningbo…The potential for airborne transmission in close confined spaces raises concern about the winter months, when people will be spending more time indoors, Dr. Marr said. Her advice: “Avoid crowded indoor spaces where people are not wearing masks and the ventilation is poor.”

“Implementing psychological therapies for gastrointestinal disorders in pediatrics”

Bonney Reed, Jessica Buzenski & Miranda A.L van TilburgExpert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology (2020), DOI: 10.1080/17474124.2020.1806055 Full Text: Implementing psychological therapies for gastrointestinal disorders in pediatrics

This article is a useful and up-to-date review on the role of psychology to treat children with gastrointestinal disorders, particularly targeting functional GI disorders as well as children with inflammatory bowel disease. Also, I want to recognize Bonney and Jessica who have been so helpful for so many of our patients.

Areas covered:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy
  • Biofeedback-assisted relaxation training
  • E-treatment/telemedicine
  • Emerging therapies: Mindfulness, and Acceptance and Commitment therapy

Resources/Referrals:

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.

Proactive Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in Pediatric Crohn’s disease -Better Outcomes

Y Gofin et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1276-82.  Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Increases Drug Retention of Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Agents in Pediatric Patients With Crohn’s Disease

Retrospective study with 197 pediatric participants (2007-2018)

Key findings:

  • Compared with the TDM- group (n=98), the TDM+ group (n=99)
    • longer drug retention time (mean ± SE, 45.0 ± 2.7 vs 33.5 ± 2.4 months; P = 0.001)
    • lower hospitalization rate per patient per year (mean ± SE, 0.51 ± 0.7 vs 0.92 ± 0.81; P < 0.001)
    • higher treatment intensification rate (70% vs 18%; P < 0.001).
  • Analysis of the entire cohort showed a longer retention time for adalimumab vs infliximab (45.3 ± 2.8 vs 34.8 ± 2.5 months; P = 0.007)

My take: This is another study showing utility of proactive therapeutic drug monitoring

Related blog posts: