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Kid’s Stomach Bugs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is the link between kid’s stomach bugs and IBS?
A serious bout with a stomach bug can raise a child’s risk of having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) later on, research shows.

Adults who have had stomach infections are known to be at greater risk for IBS, but the relationship between these infections and IBS in children is not as clear, the researchers said. To investigate, Dr. John K. Marshall of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and his colleagues looked at children participating in the Walkerton Health Study, the largest-ever study of IBS after gastrointestinal infection. In 2000, an outbreak of bacterial gastroenteritis sickened at least 2,300 people in this Ontario town, and killed seven; the researchers have been following Walkerton residents since 2002. In the current study, they looked at 467 boys and girls who were younger than 16 at the time of the outbreak, but turned 16 during the eight-year follow-up period. None of them had been diagnosed with IBS before the outbreak occurred. Among the 305 who had been sickened during the outbreak, around 10% reported IBS symptoms eight years later, compared to only about 2% of the 162 who hadn’t gotten sick. When the researchers looked only at the 130 study participants whose illness had been diagnosed by a doctor (rather than just having been self-reported), the risk of IBS symptoms was more than seven times greater compared to those who had escaped the illness. 


Reference: An outbreak of acute bacterial gastroenteritis is associated with an increased incidence of irritable bowel syndrome in children. Am J Gastroenterol (2010); 105(4):933-9.




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