How to help a child when his tummy hurt?

When the stomach hurts, the child is crying, has no appetite or desire to play. It also raises a lot of concerns for parents who are worried about their child and would like to alleviate the unpleasant ailment. What methods are indicated here?

Why does the child have a stomach ache? When a baby is born, its digestive system is able to perform its basic function – digestion and absorption, but its motor function still needs to be improved.

In the first years of life, the immune system develops, in which over 70% of of cells (lymphocytes) are associated with the digestive tract (GALT – gut-associated lymphoid tissue). The microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract is also differentiated, and the type, species and strain of bacteria inhabiting the intestines are influenced by many factors, e.g. childbirth (natural or caesarean section) or method of feeding (mother’s milk or formula). It should also be remembered that in the first years of a child’s life, the barrier of the intestinal mucosa is sealed and the number of epithelial layers that lines the walls of the small intestine gradually multiplies. All this makes the digestive system of a small child sensitive to external factors, such as stress, change in diet or certain medications (especially antibiotics and iron preparations). They can cause functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, which since 2016 have been classified as disorders within the brain-gut axis. Their causes are seen in the bacterial imbalance in the intestine.

Functional disorders of the digestive system include regurgitation (most common in infancy), infantile colic, functional constipation and diarrhea, and cyclical vomiting syndrome . The good news is that they are mild and usually go away on their own. Abdominal pain, however, causes the child to cry, and this affects the functioning of the whole family (generates stress and increases the level of fatigue).

How to relieve a child’s stomach pain?

Education is very important to reduce parental anxiety. It has been proven that functional disorders of the digestive system may have an emotional background. And it must be remembered that newborns and infants perfectly sense the fear and nervousness of their loved ones, which has an impact on their developing organism.

Painful ailments can also be relieved by a gentle tummy massage and the use of warm compresses (e.g. with a hot water bottle). It is also recommended to put the baby on the tummy as often as possible, but always under the watchful eye of an adult.

Hugging your baby (skin to skin) and wearing it, e.g. in a sling, will also bring relief. Probiotics will also help. And although there are a lot of them in pharmacies, choosing the right preparation is extremely important. In the case of functional disorders, the strain of Lactiplantibacillus (previously Lactobacillus) plantarum 299v.

The Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 299v strain binds to epithelial receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, thanks to which it can form beneficial biofilms and take the place of potentially pathogenic bacteria. It also strengthens the intestinal barrier, which prevents the movement of unwanted substances from the intestines into the bloodstream. It also contributes to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which lower the pH in the intestinal lumen, which inhibits the growth of pathogens

It is also worth composing the child’s menu in such a way that it contains sources of valuable macro- and micronutrients. Most of them are provided by vegetables and fruits (especially raw), pickled products (cucumbers, cabbage, beets), good quality dairy products (e.g. kefir, cottage cheese), fatty sea fish and lean meat.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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