To determine whether children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) include an excess of children with food allergy (FA), this study examined a consecutive series of 84 children (43M, 41F, mean age 7.9 y, range 1.6–15 y) referred during 1 y to 2 university hospitals. In addition to a clinical examination, the patients underwent gastroduodenoscopy with three biopsy specimens, skin-prick and patch tests, and comprehensive laboratory tests for atopic allergy. Based on an open elimination-challenge test, a total of 28 (33%) subjects were diagnosed for FA. In the whole material, specific endoscopic abnormalities were found in 38 (45%) subjects: oesophagitis in 17, gastric erosions in 8, lymphonodular duodenitis in 12 and erosive duodenitis in 5. FA showed a close relationship with duodenal lesions, but no significant association with oesophagitis and gastritis. The histological findings were mild, although some alterations could be observed in up to 66 (79%) subjects, equally often in patients with and without FA. None showed villous atrophy or severe infiltration of eosinophilic or mononuclear cells. Slightly increased densities of eosinophilic cells were significantly associated with endoscopic findings, especially oesophagitis. At least one positive skin-prick test with food allergens was found in 11 subjects and a positive patch test in 21 subjects, but neither showed an association with the endoscopic or histological findings, or even with clinical FA.
Conclusion: Since the children with FA showed significantly more often concomitant mucosal pathology of the foregut than those without FA, FA may be considered one of the major factors underlying RAP. The report suggests the trial of an elimination diet in cases with RAP if lymphonodular hyperplasia or duodenitis is seen on gastroduodenoscopy.