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Familial Aggregation in Children Affected by Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Buonavolontà, R; Coccorullo, P; Turco, R; Boccia, G; Greco, L; Staiano, A

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: May 2010 - Volume 50 - Issue 5 - p 500–505
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181b182ef
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Background and Aims: Adults with irritable bowel syndrome may often have a first-degree relative with abdominal pain and bowel problems. The aims of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) in parents and siblings of children affected by FGIDs, the psychological profile of both children and parents affected by FGIDs, and whether independent factors could influence the prevalence of FGIDs in parents of children with and without FGIDs.

Subjects and Methods: One hundred three patients affected by FGIDs according to Rome III criteria and/or their parents and siblings filled out validated questionnaires for gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, depression, and anxiety. These patients were compared with 65 age- and sex-matched controls referred to the Primary Care Center of the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Naples “Federico II” for non-GI symptoms.

Results: The parents of children with FGIDs showed a significantly (P < 0.0001) higher prevalence of FGIDs compared with the parents of children without FGIDs. No significant differences between the groups were observed for marital status, parental occupation, education level, standard of living, and presence of anxiety and/or depression. An association between the children's and their parents' type of GI disorders was found in 33.9% (35/103) of patients. In particular, an association between the children's and mother's type of GI disorders was found in 25.2% (26/103) of patients.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, our study is the first to demonstrate that a large number of mothers of children with FGIDs have the same FGIDs as their children.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Naples “Federico II,” Naples, Italy.

Received 27 December, 2008

Accepted 2 June, 2009

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Annamaria Staiano, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Naples “Federico II,” Via S. Pansini, 5, 80131 Naples, Italy (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.