When to Visit a Pediatric GI Specialist


When we consider the type of person more likely to need treatment for a digestive problem, we usually think of a mature adult or those of advanced age. As much as age is a factor in the advancement of some gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, the truth is that kids are not immune to gastrointestinal (GI) problems — and can be more vulnerable to certain digestive issues.

If you believe your child may have a pediatric intestinal concern, the GI specialists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates may be able to help bring them back to health. Here is some key information to note when deciding if you should consult one of our pediatric gastroenterologists in New Orleans, LA.

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

Similar to every other system present in the body, the gastrointestinal system takes some time to mature following birth. GI problems in babies are quite common during this period of development. For example, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), muscle tissue at the bottom of the esophagus that helps prevent stomach acid from flowing upward, is usually not completely formed in newborns, leading to problems with acid reflux.

Because proper nourishment is strongly linked to a child's growth and development, it's essential that you request a consultation with a pediatric GI physician if you feel your child is experiencing gastro problems. Pediatric gastrointestinal issues are more common than you might anticipate, with some even beginning at birth.

Which pediatric gastro complications are most commonly experienced?

Although children could be impacted by many of the digestive issues that are typical in adults, certain types are more likely to occur than others. Some of the more frequent issues involve:

  • CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome): This disorder causes excessive vomiting episodes that happen in frequent cycles and is usually observed in kids.
  • Constipation: Constipation involves difficulty when passing stools.
  • Abdominal distress: Several minor GI problems (like gas) will often work themselves out over time, but persistent or excessive pain warrants a visit with a pediatric GI provider.
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): IBD includes GI issues like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Food intolerances: Among kids, this often includes lactose intolerance (difficulty processing lactose products) and celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten that damages the duodenum or small intestine).
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): GERD involves the scarring and inflammation of the esophagus caused by recurrent acid reflux. This illness is very common among infants and newborns and is frequently evidenced by vomiting, hiccups, gagging, and an aversion to eating food.

It's essential to manage gastrointestinal issues in infants, toddlers, and newborns, as these conditions could interfere with a child's ability to absorb the nutrients they require for growth and development. The GI physicians at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates can help you understand your child's illness and explore the treatment options.

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

A proactive approach is generally recommended with any health issue. Even a common GI problem, such as diarrhea, can point to a greater issue if it occurs periodically. There are several clear indications that you should consult a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist, though:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Slow or little to no growth regardless of getting adequate nourishment
  • Repeat vomiting or blood present in vomit
  • Frequent diarrhea (loose, watery stools) or constipation

If you notice any of the above issues, please set up an appointment with a gastroenterology provider immediately.

Get pediatric gastro care in New Orleans, LA

At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our GI providers offer treatment for a variety of pediatric digestive concerns and are devoted to assisting our patients so they can thrive. If you are concerned or worried about your child's GI health and are seeking a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist in New Orleans, LA you can trust, contact our team today to request a consultation.