Parentelligence Blog

Bellyaches in Kids (and the “Und Here” Syndrome)

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Bellyaches, stomachaches, or belly pain in school-age children are a common occurrence.  At least half of the children that get referred to pediatric gastroenterologists like me come for treatment of their chronic, recurrent abdominal pain.  Parents often feel frustrated because despite multiple visits to physicians, even emergency rooms, they are left with more questions than answers all whilst their child continues to suffer.

A typical scenario is a child whose pain seems worst in the mornings after awakening and towards the evening, especially after dinner or before bedtime.  Often the child doesn’t want to eat breakfast and if forced, tells his parents he feels nauseated.   When asked where the pain is, the child most often points to the area around his belly button.

More often than not, depending on a few other factors, the diagnosis ends up being ...

Safety tips for the 4th of July

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN
Pediatric ICU Charge Nurse

How often do we hear it on the news, local billboards, or social media to “have a safe 4th of July”? Indeed, July 4th can be one of great celebration for our nation’s independence. But do you want to spend the evening in your local Emergency Department or Urgent Care with your child instead of enjoying it with family and friends?

Fireworks are a big cause of injuries, not only to children, but to adults alike. We collectively spend thousands of dollars on things that make the loudest “BOOM”, the brightest lights in the sky, or provide the longest show. We don’t anticipate spending additional money, hundreds to thousands of dollars, on emergency care that comes from the accidents caused by fireworks.

Here are some tips to help you have a safe 4th of July celebration:

Pet therapy for kids in the hospital at Swedish

Audrey Fuhrer

Audrey Fuhrer
Certified Child Life Specialist

During most hospital stays, a patient can expect to be visited and cared for by doctors, nurses, therapists and even social workers.  But did you know that at Swedish, we not only have a wonderful team of caregivers to provide the most optimal health care and we also have additional beneficial services like pet therapy?

Pet therapy is a wonderful service that Swedish provides to all pediatric patients and families who are not on isolation precautions.  A trained handler escorts a certified pet therapy dog room to room, visiting patients and their families at the bedside, taking the time to provide therapeutic services to all who would like it. 

Spending time with an animal has been proven to improve patient’s emotional status and ability to cope with their hospital stay.  Each pet therapy partner ...

Reducing fear for kids who need blood tests or shots

Kendra Hough

Kendra Hough
Pediatric Phlebotomist

Imagine the following scenario:  for several weeks, your daughter has been complaining of a tummy ache.  You find yourself sitting in her doctor’s office hoping to uncover what’s wrong.  Your daughter is nervous, but you’re doing your best to assure her that the doctor will come in soon, ask a few questions and make the pain go away. 
 
Just as the visit comes to a close, the doctor mentions that he’d like to “run some tests”.  Immediately, the looks on your daughter’s face changes, and you know she’s scared.   Tears well-up in her eyes as she whispers in your ear, “What tests, mommy?  What does he mean….Are they going to poke me?”  Whispers soon escalate into screams, “How big is the needle?  Does this mean I’m getting shots? NO!  No shots! Please mommy, no shots!”
 
Being a phlebotomist, this is a common scenario that I know all too well.  Since I came to work at the Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care clinic almost 2 years ago, I’ve made it my personal challenge to make a child’s phlebotomy experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.  The entire team here is committed to show children that doctor visits can be fun.  Even though part of the medical experience may include having blood drawn, it doesn’t have to be painful or scary. 
 
Some of the tools I use to make children feel less nervous include ...

Kids and lactose intolerance

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Do you wonder if your child might have “lactose intolerance”?    Have you ever thought of removing dairy from your child’s diet?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, here are a few things to remember when it comes to lactose intolerance in kids:

  • Lactose is broken down by lactase.

While lactose is the carbohydrate (sugar) found in milk, lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar. This enzyme is found in the lining of the small intestine, breaks down lactose into simpler molecules that are easier to absorb.  When there isn’t enough lactase, the sugar isn’t properly absorbed, which leads to the symptoms of “intolerance”, which include gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea.

  • True lactose intolerance is rare in young children.

Although children as young as infants can “transiently” have less lactase in their digestive tracts (most often, this happens for a week or two after an infection), lactase production remains ...

Gluten intolerance or low FODMAPs?

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Despite test results that show no evidence of their children having neither any detectable allergies to wheat nor any signs of celiac disease, many parents choose to have their children follow a gluten-free diet.  This is because of convincing stories of how gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) seems to cause their kids to have belly aches, nausea, bloating and a variety of other symptoms.  

For years, this was hard to explain without a scientific explanation.   Gastroenterologists like me had a hard time supporting families who wanted to follow gluten free diets, without a good “medical reason”.  Then, in 2011, researchers from Australia conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, rechallenge trial in nearly 3 dozen patients (none of whom had celiac disease or wheat allergy), all of whom described worsening symptoms when unknowingly ingesting small amounts of gluten.  The results of this study described a condition termed, “Non-celiac gluten intolerance”.    It was after reading this landmark study that many physicians, including myself, began to validate parents’ concerns about gluten being the culprit behind their children’s gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

But then in 2013, just as word of non-celiac gluten intolerance was gaining popularity amongst physicians like me, the exact same group of researchers from Australia published a follow-up study on a similar set of about 3 dozen patients.  The findings of this 2nd study showed that instead...

Does your child have a food allergy or food sensitivity?

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

“Every time my child eats, his belly hurts. I think he must have a food allergy. Can you help us?”

Countless times have I heard this from parents of children worried about foods being the cause of their child’s gastrointestinal (GI) complaints. Some families wonder whether their child should start a “gluten-free” or other type of dietary change. More often than not, families have already tried a few diets before meeting with me.

Parents considering these types of elimination diets need to be aware of a few key points:
The difference between “food allergy” and “food sensitivity”:

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Top Authors

Jennifer Wojciechowski
Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD
Pediatric General Surgeon

Elizabeth Meade, MD

Elizabeth Meade, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

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