Clinical presentation as a guide to the identification of GERD in children

M. M. Carr, A. Nguyen, M. Nagy, C. Poje, M. Pizzuto, L. Brodsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine if there is a correlation between common otolaryngologic symptoms and presence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in children. Methods: Charts of 295 children presenting with suspicion of GERD were reviewed for presenting symptoms including: (1) airway symptoms: stertor, stridor, frequent cough, recurrent croup, wheezing, nasal congestion, obstructive apnea, blue spells, hoarseness, throat clearing; (2) feeding symptoms: wet burps, globus sensation, frequent emesis, dysphagia, choking/gagging, sore throat, halitosis, food refusal, stomach aches, arching, drooling, chest pain, irritability, and failure to thrive. At least one positive test of barium esophagram, gastric scintiscan, pH probe or esophageal biopsy resulted in inclusion in the GERD positive group. Results: 214 children had GERD diagnosed while 81 had no positive tests for GERD. Between the GERD positive and GERD negative groups, the significantly different symptoms were stertor (P = 0.040), cyanotic spells (P = 0.043), frequent emesis (P = 0.007), failure to thrive (P = 0.006), and choking/gagging (P = 0.044). Three pooled variables were created: airway flow (stertor, stridor, cyanotic spells), airway irritation (frequent cough, recurrent croup, throat clearing), and feeding (dysphagia, failure to thrive, frequent emesis). GERD patients who were 2 years or less were compared to those older than 2 years and all three of these pooled variables were significantly different between these groups (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Children who present with a certain constellation of airway or feeding symptoms are more likely to have a positive GERD test. Children 2 years old or less are more likely to present with airway symptoms or feeding difficulties while children older than 2 years are more likely to present with airway irritation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 11 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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