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J Pediatr. 2000 Oct;137(4):480-6.

Allergic gastroenteropathy in preterm infants.

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Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, CT 06106, USA.



To determine the clinical presentation, histopathologic features, and outcome of biopsy-proven allergic gastroenteropathy (AGE) in preterm infants. We hypothesized that AGE is a more frequent cause of gastrointestinal disease in this population than previously suspected.


The retrospective portion of the study, from 1992 to 1997, included preterm infants <37 weeks' gestation who underwent biopsy because of suspected AGE. The prospective portion, from January to December 1998, included 20 infants undergoing endoscopy and biopsy because of suspected AGE.


Twenty-five infants (12 retrospective/13 prospective) with mean gestational age of 29 weeks at birth and mean postnatal age at diagnosis of 78 days were diagnosed with AGE. Three clinical patterns of presentation were noted: group 1, gastroesophageal reflux disease (n = 5); group 2, non-specific feeding intolerance (n = 8); and group 3, lower gastrointestinal bleeding (n = 12). Ten patients had negative biopsy findings (3 retrospective/7 prospective) and had clinical features indistinguishable from those of groups 1 and 2. Patients in group 3 were most likely to have positive biopsy findings (12 of 12). Fifteen patients responded to a casein hydrolysate formula, and 10 patients required an amino acid-based formula. Patients with AGE who had eosinophilic infiltration and villous atrophy took longer to recover than those with eosinophilic infiltration alone (P <.03). Subsequently, most have tolerated formula challenges and are currently tolerating cow's milk.


AGE may be an under-recognized cause of gastrointestinal symptoms in preterm infants. Confirmation with endoscopy and biopsy can be done safely and provides the basis for appropriate dietary management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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