Paediatric functional abdominal pain disorders, currently referred to as disorders of gut-brain interaction, comprise irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, abdominal migraine and functional abdominal pain not otherwise specified, as defined by the Rome IV diagnostic criteria. Functional abdominal pain disorders are common disorders with a prevalence of 3-16% depending on country, age and sex. A greater understanding of aetiopathogenesis and pathophysiology is emerging and includes intestinal components (inflammation, motility and the microbiota), central factors (psychological aspects, sensitization and/or differences in connectivity or activity of certain brain regions) as well as extrinsic factors (infections). In particular, the timing of disruption of the microbiota-gut-brain axis seems to be important. Diagnosis is challenging but is primarily based on clinical symptoms and exclusion of other organic causes, with an emphasis on avoiding unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures. The available pharmacological interventions are limited in children and, therefore, management has focused on combined approaches, including mind-targeted interventions (hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy), diet (probiotics) and percutaneous electrical nerve field stimulation. The evidence for their clinical efficacy, although limited, is favourable, with positive impacts on symptoms and overall quality of life. The coming decades hold promise for improved understanding and management of these enigmatic disorders.
Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2020 Nov 5;6(1):89. doi: 10.1038/s41572-020-00222-5.