Patients with diabetes can develop gastrointestinal motor complications; however, prevalence of gut dysmotility in children with diabetes is poorly understood. We measured gastric emptying time and gastric electrical activity in children with IDDM; presence of dyspeptic symptoms was also assessed.


Gastric emptying time and gastric electrical activity were measured by ultrasonography and electrogastrography (EGG), respectively, in 40 consecutive IDDM children (median age: 9 years [6–14]) without autonomic neuropathy; 15 healthy children (median age: 7 years [4–15]) served as control subjects. The EGG variables studied were percent of electrical dysrhythmias (bradygastria or 0.5−2.0 cpm, tachygastria or 4.0–9.0 cpm; normal rhythm is 2.0–4.0 cpm) and fed-to-fasting ratio of the dominant EGG power. Blood glucose level in the fasting state and 180 min after feeding and HbA1C concentration were also measured. Data are given as median (ranges) and means ± SD. Statistical analysis was performed using the parametric t test and the nonparametric signed-rank tests, with P < 0.05 considered significant.


Gastric emptying time was delayed in 26 patients (group A), whereas in 14 patients (group B), it was in the same range as control values; group A patients significantly differed from group B for increased prevalence of gastric electrical dysrhythmias (P < 0.01) and for a lower fed-to-fasting ratio of the dominant EGG power (P < 0.01). Group B patients did not differ from control subjects for the EGG variables measured. Diabetic children with gastroparesis had significantly higher levels of both HbA1C and blood glucose measured 180 min after feeding than those with normal gastric emptying time (P < 0.05); there was a significant correlation between levels of HbA1C and degree of gastric emptying delay, whereas a significant inverse correlation between gastric emptying time and fed-to-fasting ratio of the dominant EGG power was found both in patients and control subjects.


Delay of gastric emptying time and gastric electrical abnormalities are found in a high proportion of children with diabetes and can contribute to poor glycemic control, most likely by causing a mismatch between the onset of insulin action and the delivery of nutrients into the small intestine. Diabetic children with unexplained poor glycemic control should be investigated for abnormalities in gastric motility.

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