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01-08-2010 | Gastroenterology | Article

GER symptoms in adolescents differ depending on ethnicity


Free abstract

MedWire News: Gastro-esophageal reflux (GER) symptoms differ among Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian, and Asian adolescents, show study findings.

Writing in the journal Diseases of the Esophagus, Thirumazhisai Gunasekaran (University of Illinois, Chicago, USA) and Mary Dahlberg (Center for Children's Digestive Health, Park Ridge, Illinois, USA) report the results of a cross-sectional study of 2561 adolescents carried out to determine the prevalence of GER symptoms in different ethnic groups.

The participants filled out the Adolescent GER Questionnaire containing 19 sections on demographics, esophageal and respiratory symptoms, past medical illnesses, physician visits, and personal habits.

The age of the adolescents ranged from 13-20 years. The ethnic distribution of the cohort was 33% Hispanic, 30% Caucasian, 22% African-American, and 15% Asian.

At least one esophageal or respiratory symptom per week was reported by 32% of the participants.

The authors found that prevalence of symptoms differed between different ethnicities. For example, dysphagia was reported by 7% of Caucasians and African-Americans compared with only 4% of Hispanics and Asians, a significant difference.

In contrast, Hispanics had more heartburn, at 13%, than the other three groups, at 9-11%. But this was not statistically significant.

Notably, Hispanic girls reported significantly more heartburn and dysphagia than Hispanic boys, at 17% versus 9% and 6% versus 3%, respectively.

Significantly more Caucasians and African-Americans had respiratory symptoms, at 24% and 29%, respectively, than Hispanics and Asians combined, at 18%.

When considering participants with esophageal symptoms, more Caucasians and African-Americans also had respiratory symptoms than Hispanics and Asians, at 49% and 55% versus 42% and 34%, respectively.

The researchers found that Asians and Hispanics were significantly less likely to seek treatment for their symptoms than African-Americans and Caucasians, at a respective 26% and 33% versus 47% and 49%.

"Future research should focus on whether the differences we found are a continuing trend, and if so, reasons for these differences so that they can be adequately addressed," conclude Gunasekaran and Dahlberg.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert