What is the prevalence of pediatric gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding?

Updated: Dec 19, 2018
  • Author: Wayne Wolfram, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Robert K Minkes, MD, PhD  more...
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Severe GI bleeds are rare in the general pediatric population and are therefore not well documented.

In the pediatric ICU population, 6-20% of the general pediatric population has upper GI bleeds. The incidence of lower GI bleeding has not been well established.

In one report, rectal bleeding alone accounted for 0.3% of the chief complaints in more than 40,000 patients presenting to a major urban emergency department.

An investigation into the epidemiology of GI bleeding in hospitalized children in the United States reported that there were 23,383 pediatric discharges with a diagnosis of GI bleeding accounting for 0.5% of all discharges. Children with a GI bleeding were more likely to be male (54.5% vs. 45.8%), and older (children ≥11 years; 50.8% vs. 38.7%). Children 11-15 years of age had the highest incidence of GI bleeding (84.2 per 10,000 discharges) and children less than 1 year of age the lowest (24.4 per 10,000 discharges). The highest incidence of GI bleeding was attributable to cases coded as blood in stool (17.6 per 10,000 discharges) followed by hematemesis (11.2 per 10,000 discharges). The highest mortality rates associated with GI bleeding were observed in cases with intestinal perforation (8.7%) and esophageal perforation (8.4%). [2]

Since most patients with GI bleeding are not hospitalized, Emergency Department (ED) visits may provide more insight into epidemiology of GI bleeding. A recent report used ICD-9-CM codes for GI Bleeding to extract data from a large United States database. Between 2006-2011, a total of 437,283 ED visits were coded for GI Bleeding. The greatest number of visits occurred in patients 15-19 years of age (39.2%); the second greatest number of visits occurred in children less than five years of age (38.2%). [3]

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