Objectives. To assess the prevalence and natural history of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) in children using the Rome Criteria.

Methods. Thirteen primary care pediatricians were randomly selected from the Campania region of the Italian National Health Service. Each pediatrician completed a detailed FGID questionnaire on consecutive patients seen during a 3-month period. A total of 9660 patients aged birth to 12 years were enrolled prospectively during this 3-month period. Follow-up was performed at 1-, 3-, and 12-month intervals.

Results. A total of 194 children initially met strict criteria for at least 1 FGID. A total of 72 (37.1%) children had infant regurgitation, 26 (13.4%) had functional dyspepsia, 27 (13.9%) had irritable bowel syndrome, and 66 (34.1%) had functional constipation or other defecation disorders. All children who had a diagnosis of FGIDs were reevaluated at 1, 3, and 12 months to study the natural history of the illnesses. Additional evaluation revealed 5 children who had developed an organic diagnosis. Therefore, 5 (2.5%) of 194 children who had a diagnosis of FGIDs by the Rome criteria had a change in diagnosis to an organic disease during the study period, none of whom experienced permanent sequelae.

Conclusions. Of 194 children who received a prospective diagnosis of FGIDs using the Rome criteria, 97.5% continued to satisfy the diagnostic criteria or were improved at follow-up. The low prevalence of functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome in our population is most likely explained by the lack of adolescents in our sample.

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