Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues - including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - in children can arise from a number of conditions, including food allergies, genetic disorders, and structural abnormalities of the digestive tract.
At Penn State Children’s Hospital, we work with patients and their families to uncover the root causes of GI problems and implement a sound treatment plan, including lifestyle changes and medication.
Care at Children's
Your child’s first visit will include evaluation and medical history by a pediatric gastroenterologist. The doctor will learn more about the patient’s symptoms and lifestyle details, including diet and current medications.
The doctor may decide to order tests to help determine the cause of the patient’s GI problems. Diagnostic testing includes:
- Endoscopic procedures, which use a thin tube with a camera to see the inside lining of a patient’s digestive tract
- pH probe, a small tube inserted through the patient’s nostril that measures the amount of acid that flows into the esophagus from the stomach during a 24-hour period
- Liver biopsy, surgery that removes a small amount of liver tissue so that doctors can examine it for damage or disease
What we treat
We evaluate and manage a variety of problems affecting the digestive tract, liver, and pancreas in infants, children, and adolescents.
A common digestive problem in children is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disorder characterized by inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes IBD, but environmental, genetic, and immune factors are felt to contribute to the disease.
Other digestive problems we commonly treat include:
- Other digestive problems we commonly treat include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Failure to thrive
- Feeding difficulty
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Gastroesophageal reflux
We work with patients and their families to determine the causes of the GI problem and establish an effective treatment plan, which often includes medication and lifestyle modification.
IBD treatment typically involves medication or surgery. Medications include:
- Aminosalicylates (Anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Biologic agents
- Medication for symptomatic relief
Some children with IBD require surgery, while others may decide to pursue surgery if their symptoms don’t improve with medication. We will discuss surgery options with you if it’s a potential part of the treatment plan. The type of surgery depends on the type and severity of IBD.
GI issues and IBD care involves multidisciplinary care from many departments, including:
Our pediatric clinic is located at:
Penn State Children's Hospital - Outpatient Clinic
200 Campus Drive, Entrance 4, Suite 1100
Hershey, PA 17033
Groups, Classes & Support
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other parents and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
Learn more about pediatric support groups offered at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
Research & Clinical Trials
The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology frequently participates in clinical trials with the goal of improving digestive problems in children and adolescents.
Current clinical trials
A Long-Term Non-Interventional Registry to Assess Safety and Effectiveness of Humira® (Adalimumab) in Pediatric Patients with Moderately to Severely Active Crohn's Disease (CD) - CAPE (Active participating center)