Pediatric gastroenterology is the medical field that deals with the digestive system, liver or nutritional problem of children. Digestive, liver and nutritional problems of children are quite different from that seen in adults. Pediatric gastroenterologists generally provide treatment for the lactose tolerance, food allergies, short bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, pancreatic insufficiency, malnutrition and many more ailments in children from newborn period through teen years. Pediatric gastroenterology is a great field and requires training and practice just like any other medical field. But due to many complications there are many challenges in pediatric gastroenterology in low and middle-income countries.

Some of the major challenges in pediatric gastroenterology are highlighted below:

Care of chronic and incurable ailments

Some of the essential disorders cared for by pediatric gastroenterologists are permanent or incurable and have an effect not only throughout the early years of the infant but in his or her adult life, such as chronic constipation, chronic or extreme diarrhea, pancreatic insufficiency (including cystic fibrosis) and pancreatitis, inflammatory intestinal diseases. In such a situation, management strategies for these conditions will include specific multidisciplinary approaches, with a focus on optimal treatment in the short-term and better long-term results. Although consistently providing high-quality, child-focused and family-focused care is crucial, the implementation of new therapies and the possibility of future cure pose ongoing challenges.

Changing conditions

Throughout recent years, a variety of conditions typically attended to by pediatric gastroenterologists have developed and changed: with the latest technologies, physicians must be able to adapt, learn and change. Two cases of eosinophilic esophagitis and coeliac disease are examples. In fact, as we learn more about these diseases, it is becoming apparent that there are a variety of possible approaches that could block these pathways. It may be even more necessary to build successful and healthy preventive measures and have greater impact. One example of such an approach is the timing of gluten-containing foods being introduced in infancy.

Childhood obesity 

Increasing child obesity levels have been reported in many parts of the world (17). While initially thought of as a result of the developed world, the rates are now rising in developing countries as well. Higher child obesity levels have contributed to higher levels of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (18). Such shifts have major effects both during childhood and for future adult years. This disease has become an increasingly popular sign for liver transplants, resulting in a further range of long-term health problems. Pediatric gastroenterologists are working continuously to treat different types of childhood obesity so that they do not affect the adult years. 

The area of Pediatric Gastroenterology is rapidly developing, at times, scary ways. Changes in our global climate, developments in technology and the study of the human genome and the development of personal values across the world pose some other specific challenges in their continuing treatment of children for pediatric gastroenterologists.