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Prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in adolescents: is there a difference in different racial and ethnic groups?

  • Gunasekaran, T S
  • Dahlberg, M
Published Article
Diseases of the esophagus : official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus / I.S.D.E
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2011
DOI: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2010.01089.x
PMID: 20626447


The study aims to determine if differences exist among racial/ethnic groups in the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in adolescents. A cross-sectional questionnaire was administered to a sample of students in four racially and ethnically diverse high schools in suburban Chicago. A total of 2561 questionnaires were analyzed: 33% Hispanics, 30% Caucasians, 22% African Americans, 15% Asians, 54% female, mean age 15.8 (±1.3) years. Thirty-two percent had at least one esophageal and/or respiratory symptom ≥once a week. Caucasians and African Americans had more dysphagia than Hispanics and Asians (7% vs. 4%; P= 0.04). Hispanics had more heartburn (13% vs. 9-11%; P= 0.06) but this was not statistically significant. There was no difference for regurgitation. Hispanic females had more dysphagia (6% vs. 3%; P= 0.02) and heartburn (17% vs. 9%; P= 0.0003) than Hispanic males. African Americans and Caucasians had more respiratory symptoms than Hispanics and Asians (29%, 24% vs. 18%; P= 0.000004). Students with esophageal symptoms were more likely to have respiratory symptoms (46% vs. 17%; P < 0.0005). African Americans and Caucasians with esophageal symptoms had more respiratory symptoms than Hispanics and Asians with esophageal symptoms (55%, 49% vs. 42%, 34%; P= 0.0003). Asians and Hispanics were less likely to treat symptoms than African Americans and Caucasians (26%, 33% vs. 47%, 49%; P= 0.001). We found that differences exist among the racial/ethnic groups with esophageal and respiratory symptoms; esophageal symptoms are a risk factor for respiratory symptoms, and Asians and Hispanics seek less medical help. Future research should focus on whether the differences found continue and reasons for them.

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