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‘Abdominal pain among children on rise’
BY MARIECAR JARA-PUYOD November 11, 2017
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ABU DHABI: Toddlers must be toilet-trained but they must never be forced to use the loo if unnecessary.

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (Abu Dhabi) consultant paediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Amer Azaz told The Gulf Today the best practice is to provide and orient these children on the proper use of the facilities and not be scared of using these.

“Children like anybody else develop at their own pace. No one is the same and so just teach them where the toilets are and how to use these properly.”

He was interviewed along with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Hospital (Gosh) honourary consultant paediatric neurogastroenterologist Dr. Nikhil Thapar on Thursday afternoon from the ongoing International Paediatric Medical Congress at Conrad Dubai.

They expressed approval when informed that in one of the upscale malls in Dubai, the women’s restrooms are equipped with little girls’ toilet bowls.

There is none however for the little boys.

Both expressed alarm over the rising cases of constipation aside from abdominal pain among children worldwide which is replicated in the Middle East and in the UAE.

“It is one of five children worldwide which is the same situation here in the UAE when you go to the paediatric clinics and wards,” said Thapar who periodically visits the region for consultations and treatments.

Gosh treats 1,500 children from the Middle East every year and half of Thapar’s patients at the hospital come from the region.

Both said the prevalence is so because of biological dysfunctions and the impact of environmental factors such as the changing diets and breastfeeding practices “which can impact on early life programming.”

Thapar said: “We are getting emerging data from the Middle East now that problem with abdominal pain (the sensation) and constipation are as common as everywhere else in the world and also possibly increasing.”

With over 15 years of experience, Azaz shared that he had a 14-year-old patient who had to be rushed to the hospital and consequently underwent manual flushing that resulted in the excretion of “seven kilos of poo.”

Thapar said that on Wednesday, parents of a 12-year-old boy asked him if surgery were the final recourse to resolve the “bowel problem.”

Upon investigation, the long-drawn issue was rooted when the boy was age.

Azaz and Thapar believe that constipation issues among children would be nipped in the bud if parents and caregivers or nannies refrain from reprimanding or punishing them, specifically when in the process, they leak or soil and “become smelly.”

Azaz said: “Just imagine the psychological impact and social stigma these children will have which may be carried through their adult life.”

Azaz and Thapar highlighted on the balanced diet and enough drinking water (urine must be clear or colourless), when asked for their advice on the children’s diet and nutrition against constipation.

Thapar was scheduled on Friday to lecture how regional and UAE paediatricians basically understand “early life programming and the importance of understanding what happened in a child’s life before, even in pregnancy” including the ingestion of anti-biotics and how he was delivered, either normal or by caesarian section.

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