Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

The costs of functional gastrointestinal disorders and related signs and symptoms in infants

5 mins


Every year over £72.2 million is spent on treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) in infants and it this thought that this cost is a conservative estimate.1 This study which was conducted in England looks at the cost of treatment for FGIDs.1

Baby being examined by doctor with mother

What are FGIDs

FGIDs are a real concern and cause of stress in families, even though they are mostly benign. FGIDs are defined as variable combinations of chronic or recurrent gastrointestinal (GI) signs and symptoms without obvious structural or biochemical alterations.2 It is thought that they affect up to 50% of infants.3,4 The most common FGIDs are:

  • Regurgitation
  • Colic
  • Functional constipation

Treatment of FGIDs

There are diagnostic criteria2 and algorithms5,6 available which have been developed for the practical management by Healthcare Professionals. The first line treatments consist of:

  • Parental support
  • Parental reassurance
  • Nutritional advice

Study findings

unnecessarily leading to rising costs of treatment.

In 2014-2015 the total estimated cost of FGIDs was £72.3 million, of which £49.1 million were NHS costs and £23.2 were costs incurred by parents.

These figures did not include the cost of alternative therapies, in-patient treatments, diagnostic tests and parents time off work, making the actual costs substantially higher.

The number of products prescribed and sold over the counter to treat FGIDs indicates that more could be done to adhere to treatment guidelines which emphasise the importance of parental reassurance and nutritional advice.1

For other articles that may help with practical support or for nutritional advice on managing feeding issues, read other articles on this website such as:

Managing reflux and regurgitation
Colic: A pathway for nutritional management

For more information on this review visit

Related articles

  1. James Mahon, et al. The costs of functional gastrointestinal disorders and related signs and symptoms in infants: a systematic literature review and cost calculation for England. British Medical Journal 2017; Vol 7, Issue 11. Available at (Accessed December 2020)

  2. Benninga MA, Faure C, Hyman PE, et al. Childhood functional gastrointestinal disorders: Neonate/toddler. Gastroenterology 2016;150:1443–55.

  3. Iacono G, Merolla R, D'Amico D, et al. Gastrointestinal symptoms in infancy: a population-based prospective study. Dig Liver Dis 2005;37:432–8.

  4. Vandenplas Y, Abkari A, Bellaiche M, et al. Prevalence and Health Outcomes of Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Infants from birth to 12 months of age. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2015;61:531–7.

  5. Vandenplas Y, Alarcon P. Updated algorithms for managing frequent gastro-intestinal symptoms in infants. Benef Microbes. 2015;6(2):199-208 and also the NICE reflux guidelines.

  6. NICE (2015). Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in children and young people. Available at (Accessed: November 2020).