Upper GI bleeding in healthy full-term infants: A case-control study

M. Lazzaroni, M. Petrillo, R. Tornaghi, E. Massironi, M. Sainaghi, N. Principi, G. Bianchi Porro

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this case-control study was to evaluate the frequency and the type of mucosal lesions in newborn babies with upper GI bleeding (UGIB), the diagnostic role and safety of upper GI endoscopy, and the recognition of risk factors associated with the hemorrhagic event. METHODS: A population of 5180 infants born from June, 1988 to May, 1997 was examined. A case was defined as any patient who had UGIB within 4 days of delivery. The diagnosis was made by endoscopic examination in an endoscopy room. The following parameters were determined: amniotic fluid features, funicular blood pH, Apgar index at 5 min, neonatal weight, body length, gestational age, and the presence of other pathologies. Biochemical profiles were also evaluated. Clinical and demographic data of the mothers of the newborn babies were analyzed. Sera of cases and the respective parents were tested for gastrin and pepsinogen. As a control group, 53 full-term healthy infants matched for sex and age were randomly selected from the population of infants born in our pediatric department. RESULTS: Sixty-four of 5180 newborn babies (1.23%) suffered from UGIB within 26.5 ± 20 h of life. In 53 of 64 cases (mean age = 24.2 ± 25.5 h) it was possible to carry out an endoscopic examination. In one case, endoscopy was limited to the esophagus because of the presence of multiple mucosal ulcers and substenosis of the viscus. Esophageal damage was observed in 24/53 patients. The esophageal lesions were isolated in nine cases, and occurred jointly with gastric or duodenal damage in 14 cases and one, respectively. Gastric and duodenal lesions were seen in 43/52 and 1/52 patients, respectively. There were 17 cases of gastric ulcers and one case of duodenal ulcer. Blood clots were observed in 14 gastric ulcer patients; in one case there was evidence of active bleeding at the margins of a gastric ulcer. There was no significant difference with regard to the demographic and clinical characteristics of the cases and controls. Median values of serum gastrin of the cases and controls were similar. Median serum pepsinogen was significantly higher in the case group. CONCLUSIONS: UGIB in the newborn babies is often associated with clinically relevant mucosal lesions of the upper GI tract. The evolution, after treatment with antisecretory drugs, is generally rapid and favorable, with clinical recovery usually obtained within 24-48 h. The higher serum pepsinogen levels may only represent a significant risk factor of mucosal lesions and complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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