American pediatric literature and textbooks do not contain any reports of periodic peritonitis, a syndrome which is familiar to internists in this country as well as physicians in the Near East and North Africa. This disease, often familial, apparently is limited principally to Arabs, Armenians, and Jews, but other peoples occasionally are affected.
Periodic peritonitis is characterized by abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, polymorphonuclear leucocytosis, and, at times, pain in the thorax and joints. The duration of an attack is 24 to 72 hours; it is followed by complete remission, but exacerbations occur at regular intervals. The recurrences at times may be irregular, and the remissions may become shorter with age. Most of the patients have undergone appendectomy in childhood.
There is no appreciable effect on the general health or growth or development of afflicted children. In more than half of the reported cases the onset took place in childhood,