Pediatric gastroenterology is a medical specialty that addresses diseases of the digestive organs, namely the esophagus, stomach, bowels, liver, pancreas and gallbladder in children.

What is it?

Pediatric gastroenterology addresses diseases of the digestive organs, namely the esophagus, stomach, bowels, liver, pancreas and gallbladder, in children. A pediatric gastroenterologist’s responsibilities include overseeing endoscopic techniques, developing strategies to manage chronic diseases, and interpreting diagnostic screenings.

What are the subspecialties?

Pediatric gastroenterology is a branch of internal medicine. Pediatric gastroenterologists work with other specialists such as hepatologists, oncologists and endocrinologists in developing comprehensive treatment plans for ailments and disease.

What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?

Common medical diseases that require consultation of a pediatric gastroenterologist include lactose intolerance, celiac disease, esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux, gastrointestinal bleeding, Chron’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and obesity, as well as complications of the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Additionally, symptoms include abdominal pain, ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, and jaundice.

What are the commonly associated medical procedures?

In addition to routine diagnostic tests, more frequent procedures include percutaneous gastrojejunostomy, esophageal manometry and BRAVO placement. Percutaneous gastrojejunostomy is a procedure wherein a tube is placed through the abdominal wall that acts as a feeding tube. An esophageal manometry is used to identify whether or not the lower esophagus sphincter is working properly. A BRAVO placement is a procedure used to measure acidity in the esophagus.

Are there preventative measures I can take?

While there are risk factors such as family history that might predispose one to gastrointestinal diseases, there are many measures that are under one’s control. The most useful preventative measures include exercise, avoidance of smoking or an environment with smoking, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with less red meat, and management of weight and blood pressure. If symptoms of gastrointestinal problems persist, it is suggested to receive regular diagnostic tests.

What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?

It is a common misconception that children can outgrow celiac disease. Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that can lead to digestive deficiencies and malnutrition. It is important that families work together to have a management plan that removes gluten from a child’s diet, and that this management plan is continued throughout the individual’s lifetime.


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