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Gastrointestinal disorders are a leading cause of hospitalization in children

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are a leading cause of hospitalization in children, with certain GI conditions accounting for most of the hospitalizations. Excluding normal newborn infants and conditions related to pregnancy, GI disorders were the third leading cause of hospitalization of children in 1997, according to a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11826).

Researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine and the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City found that in 1997 there were 329,825 pediatric discharges associated with a principal GI diagnosis in the United States. These discharges accounted for more than $2.6 billion in hospital charges and more than $1.1 million in hospital days. Appendicitis, intestinal infection, noninfectious gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, esophageal disorders, and digestive congenital anomalies combined accounted for 75 percent of GI discharge diagnoses, 64 percent of GI hospital charges, and 68 percent of GI hospital days for children aged 18 and younger.

The mean and median ages for a discharged child with a principal GI diagnosis were 7 and 5 years, respectively. About one-fourth of children were younger than 1 year of age. The mean and median length of stay for all GI diagnoses was 3.4 and 2 days, respectively. The mean and median hospital charges per hospitalization of children with a GI discharge diagnosis were $8,155 and $4,441, respectively.

The mean length of stay varied by GI diagnostic category from 2.1 to 12 days. Similarly, mean hospital charges varied by GI diagnostic categories. These findings are based on an analysis of data from the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), a subset of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, which was developed by AHRQ. The KID includes data on 1.9 million pediatric hospital discharges in 1997 from 22 participating States and 2,521 hospitals.

See "National estimates of hospital utilization by children with gastrointestinal disorders: Analysis of the 1997 Kids' inpatient database," by Stephen L. Guthery, M.D., M.Sc., Caroline Hutchings, M.Stat., J. Michael Dean, M.D., M.B.A., and Charles Hoff, Ph.D., in the May 2004 Journal of Pediatrics 144, pp. 589-594.

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