When Should You Take Your Child to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist?


When imagining a person more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues, we typically think of a full-grown adult or a person of elderly age. Although age can be a risk factor for certain GI illnesses, we know that children aren't immune to digestive disorders — and can possibly be more at risk for some GI conditions.

If you think your little one might have a GI concern, it's important to connect with a pediatric digestive health specialist. Our team at Adult Gastroenterology Associates in Tulsa, OK offers the following tips to consider when determining if you should consult a pediatric gastroenterologist.

How is a child's digestive system different from an adult’s?

Like other systems in the body, the digestive tract needs time to develop after birth. GI issues in babies are common during this stage of growth growing. For instance, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle at the lowest point in the esophagus that helps prevent stomach acid from flowing backward, is ordinarily not well-developed in newborns, leading to difficulties with acid reflux.

Given that proper nourishment is closely connected to a child's growth and development, it's advised that you connect with a pediatric gastroenterologist if you see your newborn is encountering gastro troubles. Pediatric GI issues are more widespread than you may envision, with some being present at birth.

Which pediatric gastrointestinal issues are most common?

While kids could be impacted by many of the same types of gastrointestinal conditions that are seen in grownups, certain variations are more prevalent than others. A few of the more typical conditions consist of:

  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS): This disorder leads to excessive vomiting episodes that occur in cycles. It is commonly diagnosed in kids.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Gastroesophageal reflux disease refers to scarring and inflammation of the esophagus caused by frequent acid reflux. This illness is common among newborns and infants and may be characterized by hiccups, gagging, vomiting, and a reluctance to eat.
  • Abdominal distress: A lot of minor stomach problems (like gas) will resolve on their own over time, though constant or excessive discomfort warrants a visit with a pediatric GI specialist.
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): IBD includes the digestive disease known as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Constipation: This condition involves problems or difficulties with passing stools
  • Food intolerances: Food intolerances in kids often include lactose intolerance (difficulty digesting milk items) and celiac disease (an autoimmune response to gluten that causes damage to the duodenum or small intestine).

It's important to address GI problems in infants, toddlers, and newborns, as these issues may inhibit the child's capability to absorb the nutrients they need to grow in a healthy way. At Adult Gastroenterology Associates, we can put you in touch with a pediatric gastroenterologist so that you may understand such digestive health conditions and determine the ideal treatment option.

When is the right time to bring my child to a pediatric gastroenterologist?

In general, it's better to take a proactive approach to any health issues. Even something relatively minor, such as diarrhea, may be an indication of a larger issue if it occurs persistently. There are several distinct signs that indicate the need to see a pediatric GI doctor, however:

  • Recurring diarrhea or constipation
  • Persistent vomiting or blood in vomit
  • Bloody stools
  • Slow growth even when getting adequate nutrients

Should you notice any of the concerns mentioned here, please set up an appointment with a gastroenterologist as soon as you can.

Find professional pediatric gastro treatment in Tulsa, OK

At Adult Gastroenterology Associates, our gastrointestinal providers care for a variety of gastrointestinal concerns and are passionate about helping patients improve their health and wellness. If you need assistance in locating a pediatric gastroenterologist in Tulsa, OK, our team may be able to help. Please contact our offices today to learn more.