Recent studies showed that 13–40% of adults attending neurogastroenterology clinics have Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) symptoms. However, ARFID in children was understudied. From January 2016 to December 2018, researchers, for a study, reviewed the charts of 129 consecutive referrals for pediatric neurogastroenterology examinations (ages 6–18 years; 57% female). About 11 instances (8%) satisfied the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition’s complete criteria for ARFID, whereas 19 cases (15%) showed clinically significant avoidant/restrictive eating patterns but insufficient evidence to make a conclusive ARFID diagnosis. About 20 (67%) of patients with ARFID symptoms (n=30) indicated fear of gastrointestinal symptoms as the reason for their avoidant/restrictive eating.
Patients with ARFID symptoms were older (P<.001), more likely to be female (51% vs. 79%, P=0.014), and more likely to present with eating/weight-related concerns (15% vs. 33%, P=0.026) than patients without ARFID symptoms. ARFID symptoms were seen in 23% of juvenile neurogastroenterology patients in this pilot retrospective analysis; further research is needed to understand the risk and maintenance factors of ARFID in the neurogastroenterology environment.
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