By Peta Hill (Paediatric Dietitian)
The diagnosis of ‘IBS’ in children can present with similar symptoms to those seen in adults, such as:
- Tummy pain,
- Bloating or visible abdominal distension,
- Excessive wind,
- Diarrhoea +/- urgency +/- associated nappy rash and/or
- Constipation +/- straining +/- soiling
Just like in adults, it is a diagnosis based on symptoms with the exclusion of all other gastrointestinal disorders. With children it is arguably even more important to rule out all other gastrointestinal disorders as these can impede their normal growth and development.
I suspect my child has IBS and would like to trial the Low FODMAP Diet, what should I do?
Seek the advice of a paediatric dietitian prior to trialling the diet.
If investigations into other causes of your child’s symptoms have not been carried out, the dietitian is likely to suggest that your child sees your GP or paediatrician to organise some specific basic investigations to exclude some of these other causes.
If these investigations are normal, your dietitian may recommend a Low FODMAP Diet. As with any dietary restriction – even temporary ones like the Low FODMAP Diet – it is important to ensure the diet remains nutritionally complete, with age-appropriate and adequate (but not excessive) serves of each of the five food groups. Your dietitian is the best person to assist you to ensure a balanced Low FODMAP Diet.
Remember! If the Low FODMAP Diet is successful in relieving your child’s IBS symptoms, it is not recommended that your child follows a Low FODMAP Diet for life. High FODMAP foods should be individually and gradually reintroduced with the aim to pinpoint the specific foods that result in undesirable symptoms and determine a threshold for some high FODMAP foods. This threshold may change as your child grows and develops and therefore should be re-challenged regularly. Your dietitian is the best person to guide this challenge and reintroduction in order to ensure the long term diet of your child is restricted as minimally as necessary.