Delayed gastric emptying, also known as gastroparesis, means exactly what it sounds like.
If your child eats very small portions and refuses anything over a certain amount during each meal, she may have gastroparesis, which means her stomach takes longer to empty than it should. Some studies indicate approximately half of babies with reflux have delayed gastric emptying.
• Feeling full quickly
• Feeling nauseous after meals
• Vomiting and/or reflux
• Abdominal bloating
Upper endoscopy: An endoscope is passed down the child’s throat, into the stomach and small intestine. Pictures are taken on the way down and the doctor may biopsy a few areas. The doctor looks for inflammation and ulcers that may cause symptoms similar to gastroparesis.
Gastric Emptying Study: The child drinks a small amount of radioactive material which is followed by a machine as it empties out of the stomach. This test determines the length of time it takes the material to move out of the stomach. A delay would result in a positive diagnosis.
Although there are a few medications available to treat gastric emptying, they are not completely effective and dietary treatment is the most successful option. Speak to your gastroenterologistabout medications that may work well for your child.
Several small meals are often the best treatment for children with gastroparesis. If they are forced to eat more than they feel comfortable with, they may gag or vomit. It is often recommended to space meals 3-4 hours apart to give them time to digest.
Since fluids empty faster than solids, it is often easier to make 2-3 of these meals a high calorie fluid such as Pediasure or Boost Kids Essentials. These children also may have trouble digesting foods high in fat, which makes meal planning with adequate calories a challenge. Calorie boosters made primarily of carbohydrates are preferred for these children. If you are finding it difficult to provide your child with enough food, make an appointment with us. We can help you figure out where to sneak in calories and come up with a meal plan.