Does a Minority of Children With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Receive Formal Diet Advice?

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Background: Diet therapies may be recommended for pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). However, little is known about the frequency with which diet therapy is recommended in FGIDs. Our aims were to determine and contrast the frequency and types of diet recommendations provided to children with FGIDs by pediatric gastroenterologists (PGIs) versus primary care pediatricians (PCPs). Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed using data from a large, metropolitan children's academic healthcare system to identify subjects meeting Rome IV criteria for functional abdominal pain, functional dyspepsia, irritable-bowel syndrome (IBS), and/or abdominal migraine over a period of 23 months. Results: Of 1929 patient charts reviewed, 268 were included for further analyses. Of these, 186 patients (69%) were seen by a PGI and 82 (31%) by a PCP. The most common diagnosis was IBS (49% for PGIs and 71% for PCPs). Diet recommendations were provided to 115 (43%) patients (PGI group: 86 [75%] vs PCP group: 29 [25%]; P <.1). The most frequent recommendations were high fiber (PGI: 15%; PCP: 14%) and low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) diet (PGI: 12%; PCP: 4%). Of those provided with diet recommendations, only 20% (n = 23) received an educational consult by a dietitian. Provision of diet recommendations was not affected by years in practice. Conclusion: Despite increasing awareness of the role of diet in the treatment of childhood FGIDs, a minority of patients receive diet recommendations in tertiary care or primary care settings. When diet recommendations were given, there was great variability in the guidance provided.