When Is the Right Time to Engage a Pediatric GI Specialist?


When we imagine the type of person who will need care for a gastro issue, we typically imagine a fully developed adult or a person of elderly age. Even when age is a factor in the advancement of certain types of gastro ailments, children are not immune to digestive health concerns — and could be even more in jeopardy of certain gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

If your little one has symptoms of a pediatric intestinal disorder, the GI specialists at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC may be able to help bring them back to health. Here is some key information to keep in mind when determining if you should connect with a pediatric gastrointestinal provider in Hattiesburg, MS.

How is a child's gastrointestinal system different from that of a mature adult’s?

Like other systems in the body, the gastrointestinal system takes some time to develop following birth. GI concerns in newborns are fairly typical during this growing period. For example, the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle at the lowest part of the esophagus that works to keep stomach acid from flowing upward, may not be fully formed in newborns, triggering problems with acid reflux.

As optimal nourishment is closely tied to a child's proper development and growth, it's strongly recommended that you schedule an appointment with a pediatric GI physician if you think your child is experiencing gastrointestinal problems. Pediatric GI issues are more commonplace than you could expect, and some even begin at birth.

Which pediatric gastrointestinal disorders are most common?

While children can be affected by a number of the same digestive issues that are experienced in older people, some are more likely to occur than others. Some of the more common GI issues are:

  • CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome): This condition is characterized by severe vomiting incidents that occur in frequent cycles and is typically seen in kids.
  • Food intolerances: Lactose intolerance (struggling with processing milk items) and celiac disease (an autoimmune response to gluten that wrecks the small intestine) are common food intolerances among children.
  • Constipation: Constipation occurs when there is difficulty passing stools.
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): IBD involves GI conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Abdominal pain: While several minor GI issues (like gas) will resolve over time, frequent or excessive discomfort warrants a visit with a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist.
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): GERD describes the inflammation and scarring present inside the esophagus due to periodic acid reflux. This disorder is very common in infants and newborns and is frequently displayed by hiccups, gagging, vomiting, and an aversion to ingesting food.

It's important to address GI conditions in infants, toddlers, and newborns, as these concerns might inhibit the child's ability to get the nourishment they need to grow in a healthy way. A gastrointestinal specialist can work with you and your family to help you learn more about your child's condition and select the ideal treatment option.

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

It is better to be safe than sorry with any health disorder. Even common GI complications, like diarrhea, could be a sign of a larger complication if they happen routinely. There are a few distinct symptoms that we suggest you discuss with a pediatric GI doctor, however:

  • Blood with bowel movements
  • A lag in or little to no growth regardless of getting enough food
  • Recurrent bouts of diarrhea (loose, watery stools) or hard stools (constipation)
  • Repeat vomiting or blood present in vomit

Should you observe any of the above problems, please schedule an appointment with a GI doctor as soon as possible.

Find pediatric GI care in Hattiesburg, MS

At Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC, our gastroenterologists treat an assortment of gastrointestinal disorders and are devoted to helping our patients thrive. If you're concerned about your child's GI health and are in search of a pediatric gastroenterologist in Hattiesburg, MS, please contact our team today for assistance.