MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Greater access is encouraged for bariatric and metabolic surgery for pediatric populations, according to a technical report and policy statement published online Oct. 27 in Pediatrics to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Oct. 25 to 29 in New Orleans.

Sarah C. Armstrong, M.D., from the Duke Center for Childhood Obesity Research in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues address pediatric metabolic and bariatric surgery for severe obesity among youth.

According to the policy statement and accompanying technical report, metabolic and bariatric surgery have emerged as an important treatment option for severe obesity in adults and have been shown to be safe for youth with severe obesity. However, metabolic and bariatric surgery are underused in pediatric populations. The AAP recommends that referrals should be provided to high-quality multidisciplinary centers that are experienced in assessing the risks and benefits of treatments, including bariatric surgery. Pediatricians should understand the risks and benefits of surgery to assist in family medical decision making. Pediatric patients who meet criteria for surgery should be identified and referred for surgery. Preoperative and postoperative care should be coordinated with the patient, family, and various medical teams. Insurers are encouraged to reduce barriers to pediatric metabolic and bariatric surgery and provide payment for multidisciplinary preoperative and postoperative care.

“Unfortunately, we see significant disparities in which patients have access to bariatric surgery,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Surgery needs to be an option for all qualifying patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income.”

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