What Are Common GI Issues Affecting Children (Ages 0-18)?


A rumbling tummy or an occasional stomach ache is generally common for infants, children, and teens. However, do you know what solutions can help when the discomfort happens frequently? If your little one needs pediatric GI care, you can turn to our gastroenterology team for assistance. At GI Alliance, we maintain the skills and training needed to provide effective treatments. Learn more about common childhood GI conditions, along with a few helpful tips, by reading below.

How frequently are kids affected by digestive conditions?

As indicated by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of healthcare appointments with a pediatric gastroenterology physician are due to functional GI disorders. Encopresis or constipation is present in about 10 to 25% of children who are advised to visit a pediatric GI physician, and approximately 17% of high school-age students report symptoms connected to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our pediatric gastroenterology specialists wish to help your family find solutions for pediatric GI conditions.

What types of digestive conditions often affect teens, children, and infants?

Some pediatric GI conditions that are commonly identified in infants, children, and teenagers involve:

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): Ongoing heartburn in children and infants could result in a GERD diagnosis. Some typical signs and symptoms are belching, lack of a desire to eat, throwing up, abdominal discomfort, hiccups, and gagging or choking.

Lactose intolerance: This treatable issue is among the gastrointestinal disorders that may affect children of all ages. It occurs when the child's body is unable to metabolize lactose (the sugar present in dairy). Bloating, grass, watery or loose stools, or a stomach ache experienced after consuming dairy products are all indications of lactose intolerance. Taking lactase enzymes prior to eating dairy can allow the body to process lactose properly.

Constipation: Constipation happens when stool becomes large, dry, and/or painful to pass. Among children, constipation could cause them to avoid going to the bathroom. Avoiding bowel movements could cause further constipation and additional discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This digestive health problem may arise in teens and children. It includes two individual GI disorders. Ulcerative colitis leads to inflammation in the colon (large intestine), and Crohn’s disease can affect all areas of the digestive tract. Signs and symptoms for both disorders may involve bloody or watery bowel movements and stomach pain.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a digestive condition where an adverse reaction develops as a result of ingesting products containing gluten. Gluten is a protein present in rye, barley, and wheat. If uncontrolled, it could cause serious damage to the small intestine and keep your child from taking in the necessary nutrients from the food they consume.

EoE (eosinophilic esophagitis): This disorder affects the esophagus. Eosinophilic esophagitis can result in chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Kids with this condition can experience a burning feeling similar to acid reflux, regurgitation, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, they may gag frequently and experience difficulty swallowing.

What steps can parents take to promote good digestive health in children?

We know that as a parent, you want to do what's best for your family. This includes everything from planning doctor visits to ensuring they eat a healthy and well-rounded diet. Some ways to help your child achieve GI wellness are to incorporate these suggestions into their day-to-day life:

  • Set time to eat meals as a family: Try to make mealtime pleasant for every member of your family and designate a family mealtime. Doing so fosters stability and consistency, helping to ensure time spent sharing family meals is enjoyable for everyone. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during mealtimes is also an excellent way to help them create a healthy relationship with food.
  • Eat at a slower pace: We understand that between after-school commitments and hanging out with friends, it is easy for your teen to grab something from the pantry while on the go. Encourage them to take time to enjoy the food they consume to help prevent stomach discomfort.
  • Monitor portion sizes: The amount of food ingested can affect how food is processed and digested. If your child eats in excess, it may cause problems with digestion and end up resulting in an upset stomach.

For additional tips on how to help your child experience good digestive health, request a consultation with us at GI Alliance. Our specialists can work with you to determine an approach that meets your family’s lifestyle and needs.

Find care for pediatric GI conditions today

Pediatric digestive concerns do not have to lead to ongoing, uncontrollable pain. You can find options for care for all members of your family when needed. To hear more about the common digestive problems affecting children, request an appointment at GI Alliance. Our GI team proudly offers pediatric digestive care that can help your little one experience good gastrointestinal health for years to come.