Do you know that digestive disorders can affect the immune system and intelligence of the Little One? The digestive tract is the largest immunity organ and have various functions, which include absorption of nutrients that are beneficial for the optimal growth and development of the Little One.
Digestive disorders are among the most common conditions experienced by the Little One. These conditions may occur due to an anatomical or functional disorder in the digestive tract.
Anatomical disorders of the digestive tract may occur due to defects in the shape of the gastrointestinal tract since the Little One is still in the womb, such as cleft lip or biliary atresia (the bile duct is not formed or does not develop normally). Meanwhile, functional disorders of the digestive tract refers to disorders occurring due to infections, inflammation, and other instances that can cause a disturbance in the function of the digestive tract.
Why are functional disorders of the digestive tract more common in the Little One compared to parents? This is because the digestive tract of the Little One is still developing, making it more susceptible to experience disorders. Generally, functional disorders of the digestive tract experienced by the Little One include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, and constipation.
Parents must have often heard about cases of diarrhea in children. According to the 2013 Basic Health Research conducted by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, the incidence of diarrhea among under-fives in Indonesia is 6.7 percent. Diarrhea itself refers to a defecation disorder characterized by a defecation frequency of more than 3 times a day with liquid consistency. Diarrhea is often accompanied by vomiting.
Causes of diarrhea and vomiting in the Little One may include viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections, as well as other disorders such as food allergies, absorption disorders, and inflammation of the digestive tract.
Other than diarrhea, functional disorders of the digestive tract that are commonly experienced by the Little One is constipation. The Little One is said to experience constipation if the defecation frequency is less than 3 times a week, the abdomen feels hard due to accumulation of fecal matter, and the child experiences bloating. The fecal consistency is hard and dry, which can lead to pain. Constipation most commonly occurs due to lack of fiber intake, lack of fluid intake, or the habit of delaying defecation.
What can parents do to maintain the health of the digestive system of the Little One? The following points may be applicable:
Maintaining the health of the digestive tract of the child can be conducted by:
Fiber intake is quite important for the digestive health of the Little One. The recommended daily intake of fiber for Little Ones aged 1-3 years old is 19 grams. Fulfill this need by incorporating various vegetables and fruits in the menu for the Little One.
Ensure that the Little One drinks plenty of fluids, particularly water. Another way to fulfil their requirements is by serving milk or consuming fruits that contain plenty of fluids such as oranges and watermelons.
According to Beth Pinkos MS, RD, LDN, a nutrition expert from Hasbro Children’s Hospital, exercise can help gastrointestinal tract movements. Physical activity can stimulate improvements in the process of food digestion.
By consuming probiotics, the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract of the Little One will increase. This will suppress the growth of bad bacteria, which can trigger digestive disorders. Parents can also provide yoghurt, formula milk that has been fortified with probiotics, as well as fermented food, such as tempeh.
So, do not underestimate digestive disorders, as a healthy digestion is a start to an optimal growth and development of the Little One.
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