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Prevalence and Associated Factors of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and Bowel Habits in Chinese Adolescents: A School-based Study

Zhou, Huiqing*; Yao, Min; Cheng, Guang-Yu*; Chen, Yan-Ping; Li, Ding-Guo*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: August 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 2 - p 168–173
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182125388
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Objectives: In the present study, we explored the prevalence rates and association factors of functional gastrointestinal disorders and the most common modes and frequencies of bowel habit among a cohort of Chinese adolescents.

Patients and Methods: A stratified, randomized study based on cross-sectional data was performed using cluster sampling, which recruited 3671 students in Shanghai, China. All of the students were requested to complete a questionnaire.

Results: Overall, 88.05% ± 0.28% of students had a bowel movement frequency of between 1 of 2 times per day and once every 2 days. Female students were found to have a lower bowel frequency than boys (P < 0.01). The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional constipation, and functional diarrhea were 19.89%, 24.93%, and 5.42%, respectively. Certain factors adjusted for age and sex were significantly associated with IBS (P < 0.05), including gastrointestinal tract infection (odds ratio [OR] 2.26), abuse of analgesics (OR 1.25), air swallowing to terminate hiccups (OR 1.28), fatigue (OR 1.15), and depression (OR 1.36). Other factors that were adjusted for age and sex, such as fried food (OR 1.68), air swallowing to terminate hiccups (OR 1.21), anxiety (OR 1.12), and depression (OR 1.57), were significantly associated with the presence of functional constipation (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that normal bowel frequency among Chinese urban adolescents may be defined as between 1 or 2 bowel movements per day and once every 2 days. IBS, functional constipation, and diarrhea are common disorders among this adolescent group.

*Department of Gastroenterology, Xinhua Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Department of Pediatrics, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hui-Qing Zhou, Department of Gastroenterology, Xinhua Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200092, China (e-mail:

Received 25 November, 2010

Accepted 25 January, 2011

Huiqing Zhou and Min Yao participated equally in this study and share first authorship.

The study was supported by grants from the Medical Bureaus of Jiading and Putuo District of Shanghai, China.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2011 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN