Tummy aches in children

This is another common reason I see kids at my door.

It seems there is now a epidemic of children suffering with chronic digestive disorders. Almost 15% of children have functional abdominal pain – Functional means, there is no cause discovered to explain why the child is experiencing pain.

The symptoms can be from nausea, lack of appetite, gas and bloating constipation, weight loss, pain and cramping abdomen, headaches and migraines.

And these symptoms have been experienced for at least 3 days a week for the last 3 month with symptoms appearing at least 6 months ago.

Why is abdominal pain in children so common?

Multiple reasons!

Diet plays a crucial role.Carbohydrate, fructose and lactose malabsorption can  lead to specific food sensitivities. Although Food sensitivity is not documented in medical literature, we see that removing offending foods often provides relief. Food sensitivities, food intolerances and food reactions all have different mechanisms. The testing methodologies are also different and a  naturopathic doctor will choose based on what is necessary.

Improper digestion can lead to imbalance in gut microbiome . This can further change the digestive terrain and disrupt the immune system.

Stress is another factor for chronic tummy aches in children .

Children are bombarded with external pressures at home, school and social media. There is a solid link with digestive disorders and mental health. Visceral hypersensitivity is a result of the stress that leads to hypersensitization.- It can make children feel the pain when they should’nt.  The experience of pain can be out of proportion when they shouldn’t.

There are many types of functional abdominal disorders in children :

  1. Eosinophillic esophagitis
  2. Functional Dyspepsia
  3. Abdominal Migraine
  4. IBS
  5. Functional Constipation

How a Naturopathic doctor can help?

The first step to solving a problem is by first identifying it. Through a thoughtful careful process a naturopathic doctor can determine what’s causing your child’s digestive issues, often within the first 1-2 visits. A thorough discussion of your child’s’ diet, environment and past medical history is key.

Proper investigations may be necessary to rule out any organic cause . You will be referred to a gastro specialist if there is a need.  A food intolerance assessment will often be the next step that will help us determine a appropriate diet.

Depending on the digestive concern, there is generally an herbal medicine, targeted formulas and probiotics  used safely to help your child.

There are certain strain of probiotics that can help with functional abdominal pain . Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 are few examples that are well studied to help in constipation and abdominal pain.

Always consult a qualified naturopathic doctor before starting any natural products and supplements in children. If your child Is going through recurrent tummy aches, get in touch.  Experience the most comprehensive and holistic approach with a functional medicine doctor in Singapore.


Korterink, Judith J., et al. “Epidemiology of pediatric functional abdominal pain disorders: a meta-analysis.” PloS one 10.5 (2015): e0126982.

Berni Canani, Roberto, et al. “Diagnosing and treating intolerance to carbohydrates in children.” Nutrients 8.3 (2016): 157.

Hutson, J. M., et al. “‘Rapid transit’constipation in children: a possible genesis for irritable bowel syndrome.” Pediatric surgery international (2019): 1-9.

Urbańska, Magdalena, and Hania Szajewska. “The efficacy of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infants and children: a review of the current evidence.” European journal of pediatrics 173.10 (2014): 1327-1337.

Rutten, Juliette MTM, et al. “Nonpharmacologic treatment of functional abdominal pain disorders: a systematic review.” Pediatrics 135.3 (2015): 522-535.

Martin, Alice E., et al. “Dietary interventions for recurrent abdominal pain in childhood.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017.3 (2017).

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