Bariatric Surgery in Children and Adolescents with Cognitive Impairment and/or Developmental Delay: Current Knowledge and Clinical Recommendations

  • Brittany E. MathesonEmail author
  • Danielle Colborn
  • Cara Bohon


Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for children and adolescents with severe obesity. However, outcomes in youth with cognitive impairments and/or developmental delays are understudied. This paper reviewed the literature on bariatric surgery within this population. Fourteen studies published from 1975 to 2019 were identified. The majority (93%) of studies included patients with genetic disorders. Most studies reported no peri-operative complications (69%) and improved health outcomes (79%), with variable weight-loss results (29.2–86.2% excess weight loss). No significant differences were reported for youth with and without cognitive impairment and/or developmental delay in two studies. Limited available data suggest bariatric surgery may promote weight loss and improve health comorbidities for youth, irrespective of cognitive or developmental functioning. Clinical recommendations for working with patients and families are included.


Bariatric surgery Adolescents Developmental disability 



This study was funded by 5K23 MH10679404 (PI: Bohon).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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