Aims To establish the incidence and clinical associations of acute pancreatitis (AP) in children aged 0–14 years in the UK.
Methods Monthly surveillance of new cases of AP in children under 15 years of age through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit.
Results A total of 94 cases (48 boys and 46 girls) of AP, clinician-diagnosed from April 2013 to April 2014, fulfilled the diagnostic criteria. The median age of diagnosis was 11.2 years (range 1.30–14.89 years). White children accounted for 60% of cases compared to 40% from ethnic minorities (71% Asian and 13% Black). Pakistani children alone made up 19% of the cohort. The reported incidence of AP in children under age 15 in the UK was 0.78 per 100,000 (95% CI 0.62–0.96). Of the 94 cases: 36 (38%) were idiopathic, drugs 18 (19%), gallstones 12 (13%), hereditary 7 (7.5%), organic acidaemia 7 (7.5%), anatomical anomalies 4 (4%), viral infections 3 (3%), vasculitis 3 (3%), trauma 1 (1%) and others 3 (3%). The most common drug associations were asparaginase (28%), azathioprine (17%) and sodium valproate (17%). Of the 12 gallstone-associated cases, 5 were boys; body weight of 5 cases were above the 91st centile (4 were above the 98th centile). Overall, 6 of 7 organic acidaemia cases (86%) and 3 of 5 asparaginase-associated cases (60%) were of Pakistani ethnicity.
Conclusion This is the first estimate of incidence of AP in children in the UK. In children, AP is associated with a wide variety of potential aetiologies and more than one third of cases have no cause identified. The associations of AP have changed significantly since the 1970/80s. Drug therapy and gallstones are now the commonest associations, whilst trauma and mumps have become uncommon. Children from some ethnic minorities are greatly over-represented, which possibly reflect the greater frequency of inborn errors of metabolism in some ethnicities. However the over-representation of asparaginase associated AP in Pakistani children merits further investigation.
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