Easing your child’s digestive issues

Photo courtesy Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) When your children aren’t feeling well, you feel their pain right along with them. Some common problems many little ones develop involve digestive issues. So how do you know when your child’s problems are normal and when to seek the advice of a specialist?

Dr. Deborah Cloney is the section chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Pediatric gastroenterology takes care of any type of problem in the digestive system, whether it is abdominal pain or inflammatory bowel disease.

The most common complaint is constipation. About 3% of visits to physicians is for constipation and it makes up 25% of referrals to gastroenterologists. Constipation in children can be caused by too much dairy or starchy food in their diet, or too little water or fiber. Even potty training can cause constipation.

There are some things parents can do to help prevent constipation:

Get enough fiber

  • Recommended range of fiber: Child’s age plus 5 to 10 grams per day
  • Example: 6 years + 5 grams = 11 grams per day
  • 6 years + 10 grams = 16 grams per day
  • Range: 11 – 16 grams per day

Drink plenty of liquids

  • Minimum daily fluid needs:
  • 7-12 pound: 16-28 ounces
  • 21-26 pound child: 40-49 ounces
  • 35-44 pound child: 56-64 ounces
  • 63-99 pound child: 76-84 ounces

If you have a concern about your child’s health, it’s best to start by going to their primary care physician. To learn more about Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s pediatric gastroenterology department, click here.

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