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Eur J Pediatr. 2015 Jan;174(1):91-6. doi: 10.1007/s00431-014-2369-4. Epub 2014 Jul 6.

Italian survey on general pediatricians' approach to children with gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.

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Department of Translational Medical Sciences, Section of Pediatrics, University "Federico II", Naples, Italy,


The aim of the present study was to investigate the current approach of Italian general pediatricians to children with gastroesophageal reflux (GER) symptoms, evaluating the implementation of the 2009 North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN)-European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) guidelines. One hundred randomly identified Italian general pediatricians were asked to complete a case report-structured questionnaire investigating their approach to infants, children, and adolescents with symptoms suggestive of GER. Only 2 % of them showed complete adherence to the guidelines. Thirty-nine percent of them diagnosed GER disease based on clinical symptoms, irrespective of the age of the child; 56 % prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in infants with unexplained crying and/or distressed behavior and 38 % in infants with uncomplicated recurrent regurgitation and vomiting; 57 % prescribed PPIs in children younger than 8-12 years of age with vomiting and heartburn, without specific testing; and 54 % discontinued PPI therapy abruptly. The overall rate of pediatricians over-prescribing PPIs was 79 %.


According to our findings, most Italian general pediatricians do not seem to follow the recommendations of the 2009 NASPGHAN-ESPGHAN reflux guidelines and often prescribe PPIs despite a lack of efficacy for the symptoms being treated. We are well aware that the guidelines address the average situation and that the evaluation of individual patients may frequently reveal reasons for opening criteria for exceptions. Nevertheless, the over-diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) places undue burden on both families and national health system which has not been impacted by the publication of international guidelines.

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