Breathing Easier: FDA approves breath test for kids

16 month old Calleigh Erickson has a cold and isn't feeling too hot--for pediatrician Gregory Sonnen that was pretty easy to diagnose--but diagnosing kids with a bacterial infection that causes stomach inflammation is never easy--until now.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a breath-test called BreathTek UBT for kids 3 to 17 years of age.

The test can detect helicobacter infections in kids in a non-invasive way.

"When a child has the symptoms that make us wonder, do they have ulcers they have to go to the specialist or the surgeon, go under anesthesia, have the scope put down, biopsy done,” Dr. Sonnen said. “It's a huge procedure."

Dr. Sonnen see's about a dozen suspected cases a year.

The old school method of diagnosing the infection was invasive and expensive but failing to diagnose could cause potentially dangerous health issues later in life—including gastric cancer.

"Early on in peptic -ulcer disease you have discomfort, pain, when you eat sometimes the ulcers bleed which can make you anemic,” Dr. Sonnen said. “Some of these ulcers can lead on to types of cancers."

Dr. Sonnen expects  the new breath test to take no time at all with results in a few hours.

Cassandra Erickson said her daughter has been sick a lot but luckily so far she hasn’t had any stomach issues--but if she did using the new breath test would make her and Calleigh feel much better.

"I think it would be great to have it to where they don't have to be under anesthesia or have endoscopy, just a simple test that is non-invasive is wonderful,” Cassandra said.

Dr. Sonnen said it’s a win-win for both the patient and parent.

"I'm really thinking the patients were we have symptoms of ulcer disease this is going to be a great boon to the family and the patient being able to diagnose them in a non-invasive manor," Dr. Sonnen said.

As for Calleigh--if one of her frequent trips to Dr. Sonnen’s office includes stomach inflammation--she'll breathe easier.

"If she could get it she would be the one to have it,” Cassandra said. “I'm sure because she's had everything."


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