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J Pediatr Surg. 1991 Jun;26(6):686-90.

The mean duration of gastroesophageal reflux during sleep as an indicator of respiratory symptoms from gastroesophageal reflux in children.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Humana Children's Hospital-Las Vegas, NV.


The coexistence of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and respiratory symptoms has been reported in children, but identifying a reliable indicator of reflux-induced respiratory symptoms has been difficult. The mean duration of reflux episodes during sleep (ZMD), extracted from a 18- to 24-hour esophageal pH recording, has been presented previously as a reliable correlate of respiratory symptoms caused by GER in infants. To reexamine the accuracy of the ZMD we report 519 consecutive children with respiratory symptoms (aged 1 week to 15 years) who were referred for documentation of GER by 18- to 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring. Follow-up information was obtained on 388 patients 1 to 115 months later (mean, 23 months). From the follow-up information, 259 children could be reliably classified; 128 as having reflux-related and 131 as having reflux-unrelated respiratory symptoms. None of the 131 children with reflux-unrelated respiratory symptoms had a prolonged ZMD (greater than 3.8 minutes). In comparison, 119 of the 128 children (93%) with reflux-related respiratory symptoms had a prolonged ZMD (P less than .001). The nine children who had a normal ZMD and improvement in their respiratory symptoms with the successful control of GER had advanced esophagitis (n = 4), central apnea (n = 3), or associated disorders in which respiratory symptoms improved with the avoidance of oral feedings (n = 2). In conclusion, the ZMD was confirmed to correlate directly with both the presence and absence of respiratory symptoms caused by GER in children.

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