Gas Pain Symptoms in Children

Small girl drinking milk
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Although gas can lead to gas pain, it is important to remember that gas is often normal, especially in newborns and infants.

Signs and symptoms that your child may have more than just simple baby gas include that they are often fussy, have loose or foul-smelling stools, have difficulty feeding, isn't sleeping well, or cries for long periods of time when they have gas. These could be symptoms that your baby has colic. 

On the other hand, babies who are happy, feeding well, and their gas doesn't seem to bother them likely don't have any kind of medical condition and may have normal baby gas.

Best Formula for Gas Pain

When faced with gas, parents of babies who drink baby formula may often transition to another formula at the first sign that their baby is having any gas pain. Though many formulas are designed and marketed for babies with gas, it is not always necessary to make the switch.

These new types of sensitive, gentle, and/or comfort baby formula include:

  • Enfamil Gentlease
  • Enfamil Reguline
  • Enfamil ProSobee
  • Similac Sensitive (formerly Similac Lactose-Free)
  • Similac Total Comfort
  • Similac Soy Isomil
  • Gerber Good Start Soothe
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle
  • Gerber Good Start Soy
  • Parent's Choice Gentle Formula
  • Parent's Choice Sensitivity Formula
  • Parent's Choice Tender Formula
  • Parent's Choice Soy Formula

While changing from a milk-based, iron-fortified formula is sometimes recommended, it is necessary much less often than most parents realize. For example, congenital lactase deficiency, in which babies can't digest the milk sugar lactose when they are born, is thought to be extremely rare. And since older children don't usually develop symptoms of a lactose intolerance until they are between 2 to 5 years old, changing your baby to a lactose-free formula is often unnecessary. However, your baby might temporarily need a lactose-free formula, such as if he recently had a viral infection that caused severe diarrhea, such as rotavirus.

Unlike lactose intolerances, newborns and infants can have true milk protein allergies. In this case, changing to a soy formula would likely seem to be a good idea. But since many of these babies can also have a soy allergy, a hypoallergenic formula such as Nutramigen or Alimentum is usually a better choice.

Keep in mind that infants with milk and soy allergies will usually have more symptoms than just gas, including diarrhea, vomiting, hives, wheezing, bloody stools, and/or irritability.

Breastfeeding and Gas Pain

As with a formula-fed infant, breastfeeding moms should usually only consider gas a true issue if it is excessive or accompanied by other symptoms.

Before restricting your diet too much when your breastfed baby has gas, consider eliminating all milk and dairy products from your diet for a week or so. If this helps your baby's symptoms, then they may have a milk protein intolerance (allergic colitis), and the milk proteins from your diet that are passing into your breast milk could be causing a problem. However, that isn't necessarily a reason to stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding mothers could also avoid a few other foods known to cause gas. Or try temporarily avoiding the foods that seem to cause your child to have a lot of gas.

If you have a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance (sometimes associated with maternal hypergalactica), in which you time your breastfeedings and don't let your baby nurse until they are finished on one side, then they may have gas because they are getting too much 'sugary' foremilk. Your baby may have less gas if they breastfeed until they are finished on each side and receive more hindmilk, which has more fat and less sugar.

Older Children With Gas

Although it can also be normal, older children with gas can have an underlying medical condition causing their gas, including lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption, or celiac disease.

Fortunately, they can sometimes be better at describing associated symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, etc. And older children can sometimes recognize when their symptoms are being caused by specific foods, including milk, fruits, or vegetables.

Dietary Modifications

In general, although foods get the blame for causing kids to have gas, you shouldn't restrict your child's diet unless you have talked with your pediatrician.

It can sometimes help gas and gas pains if your child:

  • Avoids those foods that you are sure are causing your child to have gas.
  • Avoids fruit juices with high sorbitol content, including apple, pear, grape, and prune juice.
  • Avoids foods that include artificial sweeteners, including sugar-free drinks, candy, and gum.
  • Avoids carbonated drinks.
  • Drinks almond milk or rice milk instead of cow's milk if he has a lactose intolerance.
  • Eats slowly so they don't swallow a lot of air when they eat.

A high-fiber diet, which is not common among kids, can lead to excessive gas. Since a high fiber diet is considered healthy, it is not recommended to restrict the fiber in your child's diet until you talk to your pediatrician, even if you think it is causing some gas.

Treatments

Avoiding gassy foods is usually the best treatment for children with excessive gas.

Simethicone is a popular treatment for gas that is often tried by parents with fair success. It is available in many forms, including Infants' Mylicon oral drops, Gas-X, and Mylanta Gas Relief, etc.

Beano, available as drops or a chew tablet, is a digestive enzyme that helps make many high-fiber foods easier to digest, including beans, broccoli, and whole-grain bread, etc.

If your child is lactose intolerant, instead of avoiding cow's milk and other dairy products, it may help if they take a lactase enzyme tablet to help them digest milk.

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Article Sources
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