• Are Digestive Diseases Hereditary?

    Good nutrition is a cornerstone of a healthy childhood, but it isn’t always easy for kids to get the nutrients they need. Some children are affected by digestive disorders. There are many types of digestive disorders that affect humans and some of these are hereditary or have a tendency to run in families. When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear a pediatric gastroenterologist at Sunrise Children’s Hospital introduce some of the digestive diseases that may run in families.

    Hirschsprung Disease
    Pediatric specialists may diagnose Hirschsprung disease shortly after birth. Children with this inherited digestive disorder often fail to have a bowel movement during the first few days of life. Hirschsprung disease is characterized by the absence of nerve cells that trigger the muscular contractions that are necessary to move stool through the colon. Poor feeding, vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition, delayed growth, and abdominal pain can result from Hirschsprung disease. This disease can lead to other serious complications, including intestinal perforation, inflammation, and obstruction.

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
    IBD is a group of diseases that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract . It includes ulcerative colitis (UC), which results in swelling of the rectum and, in some cases, swelling that extends farther up the colon. Crohn’s disease is characterized by the formation of ulcers that can develop anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Unlike UC, patients with Crohn’s disease may have “skip” areas, which are areas with normal tissue in between affected areas. Inflammatory bowel diseases tend to run in families. This means that a child may be at a higher risk of being diagnosed with an IBD if a close relative has it.

    Cystic Fibrosis
    Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder. It is not exclusively a digestive disorder, but it can indeed affect the digestive system. The thick mucus that is characteristic of cystic fibrosis can block the transportation of enzymes from the pancreas to the small intestine. This can result in failure to thrive, severe constipation, intestinal blockage, and rectal prolapse.

    The clinical dietitians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital work closely with families to help them meet their children’s unique nutritional needs. Our children’s hospital in Las Vegas is committed to helping kids feel better and live life well. If you need a referral to a pediatric specialist for your child’s digestive disorder, you can call our children’s hospital at (702) 233-5437.

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