Pediatric gastroenterologists are trained to provide care for children suffering from digestive conditions, or disorders of the gastrointestinal system, including the stomach, intestines and related structures.

Watch an Overview of Pediatric Gastroenterology

About Pediatric Gastroenterology

Pediatric gastroenterology is a field of medicine that that provides care for infants, children and adolescents suffering from diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, or digestive system, and liver. Pediatric gastroenterologists are often involved in care when a child is suffering from chronic or repeated complications relating to the digestive system, such as chronic pain. Children may also be referred to pediatric gastroenterologists when their primary care physician is unable to arrive at a concrete diagnosis after repeated tests and treatment procedures.

Pediatric gastroenterologists are trained to provide diagnostic and treatment procedures for a wide array of complications and diseases affecting the GI tract and liver. These include inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, liver disease, food intolerance, chronic constipation or diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, celiac disease and vomiting, among many others. Pediatric gastroenterologists may utilize a wide range of tests and procedures to diagnose these and other disorders. This includes the use of endoscopic testing procedures to get a look inside the child’s digestive system or biopsy samples to test for the presence of disease.

Aside from their training in the diseases and complications of the GI tract and related systems, pediatric gastroenterologists are also highly trained in nutrition and healthy diets. These physicians can work with the parents of children to craft a diet plan that will minimize the body’s response to certain types of foods, help the family avoid certain foods, or suggest alternatives to foods that are affecting the child’s health or exacerbating the child’s symptoms.

Pediatric Gastroenterology Education & Training

Pediatric gastroenterologists must complete a demanding program of study before they may provide care to patients as an independent physician. After completing a bachelor’s degree, the student must enter medical school. During four years of medical school, the student will be exposed to laboratory, classroom and clinical study in a wide range of medical topics. Upon completion of medical school, the student is awarded an MD or DO degree. After graduating from medical school, the physician must complete a pediatric residency.

During a pediatric residency, the physician will spend three years providing care to children while under the tutelage of a team of experienced pediatricians and other physicians. The resident will progressively earn more responsibility in the diagnosis and treatment of infants, children and adolescents. During this time, the physician will gain valuable insight into the communication skills that are necessary when providing care to children – pediatric gastroenterologists are tasked with explaining diagnosis and treatment techniques not only to the patient, but to the parents or caregivers as well.

After completing a pediatric residency, the physician must enter into a three year pediatric gastroenterology fellowship. During the fellowship, the physician will gain valuable knowledge in the specialty by diagnosing and treating pediatric patients suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. As a fellow, the physician begins to gain expertise in their field that will enable them to care for all types of GI complications present in infants, children and adolescents. After completing fellowship training, many pediatric gastroenterologists seek board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatric Gastroenterology. To provide care to patients, pediatric gastroenterologists must receive a license to practice medicine in the state(s) they practice or intend to practice.