On World Digestive Health Day, Paediatrician Urges Parents to Prioritize Children’s Gut Health to Prevent Common Digestive Problems

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New Delhi, 29th May 2023 World Digestive Health Day comes as a gentle reminder for all of us to keep our guts healthy. However, to keep the gut of the children healthy to prevent the emerging common digestive problems, paediatrician urges parents to be to prioritize children’s gut health to prevent common digestive problems. The commonly observed problems of the gut in children are constipation, hyperacidity and diarrhoea. Constipation affects up to 30% of children [1]. This is the most common cause of stomach pain in children and is often overlooked. Hyperacidity affects 22-25% of infants in India [2]. Diarrhoea kills an estimated 300,000 children under-five in India each year. [3]

Dr Arun Wadhwa,

Elaborating on the importance of digestive health in children, Dr Arun Wadhwa, Visiting Consultant, Paediatrics, Rainbow Children Hospital, New Delhi said, “Diarrhoea is a very common problem in the early years and it is not necessarily related to teething. You should immediately start WHO’s ORS, probiotics and Zinc if not given in the last three months. It may take 5-7 days to settle and don’t be in a rush to start antibiotics – unless there is blood in stools.”

It is also important that children are properly vaccinated with rotavirus and measles vaccines. This greatly helps in preventing diarrhoea. On observing any symptoms of digestive problems or for information related to vaccination, immediate consultation with a paediatrician is required.

Adding further Dr Wadhwa says, “Hyperacidity and reflux in infants below 9 months of age are also common problems. Most of them will settle with age and proper diet, though, rarely we may need a course of appropriate antacid medication.”

Trillions of bacteria live inside our gut. For those who think bacteria is only of the bad kind, think again! In our gut, thrives an ecosystem of bacteria that is very important for our health, especially for our developing children.

Uncomfortable digestion, stomach aches, poor nutrient absorption, poor immunity and sleep, mood fluctuations and general fatigue and tiredness are commonly observed symptoms of a poorly functioning gut. All these can have a detrimental impact on the overall well-being of any individual, especially the children.

There are many ways to boost children’s gut health such as breastfeeding them including more fibre in their diet, cutting down on fatty foods and opting for probiotics. Giving children small and frequent meals, ensuring adequate water intake and encouraging them to go out and play, providing safe outdoor exposure, are very useful for their gut health. Avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics is very important as these cause serious problems to their gut.

The significant role of our gut health in ensuring holistic health is well-known. With 70-80% of immune cells being present in the gut, [4] this is very important for everyone, especially for the parents to pledge to invest in their child’s gut health to improve their overall health and set them up for good health later in life.

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