Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children
There is not enough information on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children and teens.
If your child has IBS, you probably have many questions, including if your child is the only one, causes, diagnosing IBS in children, and how it is treated.
One study from the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, finds up to 17% of school-age children have recurrent abdominal pain (RAP.)
RAP is an abdominal pain with no explanation that continues and interferes with daily activities. At least 65% of these children meet the criteria for IBS and have symptoms of abdominal pain that interfere with daily life.
Another study – this one from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Connecticut, finds 14% of high school students and 6% of middle school students have IBS. The researchers further note that girls and boys are equally affected.
Causes of IBS in Children
The exact cause of IBS is unknown but a popular theory is that people with IBS have colons that are more sensitive and reactive. As a result, the bowels respond strongly to any stimuli and the nerves control digestive are sluggish.
Other theories as to why some children experience IBS symptoms are:
- Problems with the way food moves in their digestive systems
- Too much bacteria in the bowel
Any one of these factors can bring about symptoms. Therefore, it is important to reassure your child his or her symptoms are real.
IBS tends to run in families and several studies have found more than one close family member has IBS. One study out of the Gastroenterology Department, University Hospital L. Sacco-Milan, Italy, finds IBS is three times more likely in siblings.