Tummy troubles such as gastroenteritis are common in young children attending nursery and are used caused by a virus, such as rotovirus.  As many parents will know, nursery acquired gastroenteritis is a regular feature in the early years, and is easily transmitted due to close proximity with other young children, children being in nappies.  The immature immune system increases a child’s susceptibility to these kinds of infections. This is all a very necessary part of early childhood and normal gut immune system development. By the way, breast feeding offers protection against these infections, and associated with specific gut microbes and distinct microbiota.

History of feeding difficulties

Most young children do bounce back fairly quickly after these episodes and weight soon returns to normal, as increased appetite makes up for those losses.  But for some children, in particular those with a history of feeding difficulties, those D & V infections can become a real set back.  Feeding difficulties ranges from episodes of food refusal, eating a narrow range of foods, sensory difficulty with food texture and also with food allergy or ongoing reflux.  Some children may also loose confidence with eating, revert to earlier food behaviours and so returning to normal dietary intake becomes problematic. It can be helpful to have some tried and tested strategies to manage this period.  Good helpings of reassurance and gentle encouragement are always helpful.

Persistent tummy troubles

Some particularly nasty infections, those which last 1-2 weeks can have longer lasting effects. Typically with some temporary intestinal damage, causing  a temporary lactose intolerance with ongoing symptoms of diarrhoea.  For other children,  behavioural issues such as food refusal can start, and should be deal with sensitivity and maintaining, as best you can, mealtime routines and social eating.  If you child is experiencing persistent tummy troubles in childhood with an ongoing poor appetite, food refusal and/or growth faltering, this may indicate an underlying medical problem.  Your GP is your first port of call, who may then refer you child to see a Paediatric Gastroenterologist. I offer dietary assessment, feeding history and selected strategies to guide families.