Stomach Ache in Children and a Low-FODMAP Diet
We’ve often talked about FODMAPs* in the last two years on our blog (for example here, here and here). One topic we’ve never touched on? Low-FODMAP diet for children who suffer from functional digestive issues (stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, gas, etc.). I’m going to make the most of a recent article on this topic published in the journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology¹, to share some information with you.
By reviewing several scientific papers, the authors have been able to identify some key points for changing dietary habits with the aim of improving stomach aches (and other gastrointestinal issues) in children.
Dietary Habits at Play
Firstly, it’s important to note that it isn’t a good idea to begin the process of a low-FODMAP diet before consulting your wellness team and specialized pediatric dietitian.
Secondly, eliminating FODMAPs isn’t the first line of treatment to consider for stomach aches and other digestive symptoms in children. An evaluation (and appropriate changes, if necessary) of dietary habits is essential.
Indeed, symptoms and cramps in children can sometimes be explained by an excessive consumption of fruits and fruit juices, milk, yogurt and cereal products. These foods are often children’s favorites, and we might be tempted to give them as much as they like, especially if they tend to be difficult when it comes to their diet.
Is a Low-FODMAP Diet the Solution?
If symptoms persist despite a change in dietary habits, you can then consider a low-FODMAP diet, with the help of a dietitian specialized in this field. There are two precautions to take:
- Ensure you don’t restrict the child’s diet too much
- Carry out re-introduction tests as soon as symptoms are managed
The Role of FODMAPs in Children’s Microbiome
Some studies²⁻⁵ have demonstrated possible negative effects of a low-FODMAP diet on the diversity of microbiome bacteria in adults. This is probably explained by the fact that foods containing FODMAPs also contain plenty of prebiotics (non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the digestive system’s good bacteria), as mentioned in our article 5 Foods for a Healthy Microbiome.
The Importance of Reintroduction
Despite the fact that these observations were made on adults, they can definitely serve as a warming for children as well. Hence the importance of following a low-FODMAP diet for as short a period as possible. Reintroduction tests should be carried out no later than within 6 weeks, but ideally more quickly if symptoms diminish beforehand.
I shared more details on the importance of reintroduction in the article Reintroduction of FODMAPS, Why Is it Important?.