When Is the Right Time to Engage a Pediatric Gastroenterologist?


When we imagine the kind of individual more likely to need care for a gastrointestinal (GI) issue, we commonly picture a full-grown adult or an older person. As much as age is a factor in the advancement of some GI disorders, the truth is that kids are susceptible to digestive troubles — and could be more likely to develop specific conditions.

If your small child may be experiencing some sort of pediatric digestive concern, the gastroenterology providers at GI Alliance may be able to help improve their GI health. Here is some key information to take note of when determining if you should request an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist.

How does a child's gastrointestinal system differ from that of an adult’s?

Just like every other system existing in the body, the GI tract requires some time to develop after birth. Stomach problems in babies are moderately common in this stage of development. For instance, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that functions to block stomach acid from flowing upward, is generally not well-developed in babies, creating difficulties with gastroesophageal reflux.

Since optimal nutrition is tied closely together to a child's growth and development, it's essential that you connect with a pediatric GI provider if you suspect your child is enduring gastro problems. Pediatric GI disorders are more common than you might think, with some even beginning at birth.

Which pediatric digestive issues are most commonly experienced?

Though kids could be affected by many of the same types of gastrointestinal troubles that are present in older people, some are more prevalent than others. Some of the more common GI issues include:

  • Food intolerances: This includes lactose intolerance (complications with processing milk items) and celiac disease (the autoimmune adverse reaction to gluten that causes damage to the small intestine).
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD involves GI conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome): This disease results in excessive vomiting episodes that come in frequent cycles and is normally diagnosed among children.
  • Abdominal distress: Many of the minor stomach issues (like gas) will work themselves out with time; however, persistent or extreme discomfort warrants that you schedule a visit pediatric GI specialist.
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): Gastroesophageal reflux disease refers to inflammation and scarring present in the esophagus caused by continual gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux). This disorder is extremely typical among newborns and infants and is often evidenced by vomiting, hiccups, gagging, and an aversion to eating food.
  • Constipation: This condition involves problems with passing stools.

It's essential to manage GI problems in infants, toddlers, and newborns, as these issues may hinder the child's capacity to get sustenance they require to grow. The GI physicians at GI Alliance can work with you and your family to help you understand pediatric troubles and get the care needed.

When should I bring my child to a pediatric GI provider?

It's generally better to take a proactive approach to any health ailment. Even a small issue, like diarrhea, can suggest a larger complication if it occurs commonly. There are a couple of distinct symptoms to look for, and we suggest you contact a pediatric gastrointestinal provider should they occur:

  • Frequent vomiting or blood present in vomit
  • Slow or no growth despite getting plenty of nutrients
  • Bloody stools
  • Frequent diarrhea (loose, watery stools)
  • Hard stools (constipation)

Should you observe some of the listed complications, please set up a consultation with a gastrointestinal specialist right away.

Get expert pediatric GI care

At GI Alliance, our gastroenterologist providers give treatment for an array of pediatric GI concerns and are devoted to helping our patients thrive. If you are concerned about your child's gastrointestinal health and are seeking a pediatric gastroenterologist you might count on, please contact us today to schedule a treatment consultation.