«Why does the baby’s stomach constantly rumble?»
«My daughter is 4 months old. Since birth, she has been constantly rumbling in her stomach, especially during feeding. I put my hand to my tummy, and there’s a real storm. What is it? Colic? Or some kind of stomach problems? How can I help my child? Do I need to be treated?»
Rumbling in the stomach occurs normally, both in adults and in babies due to peristalsis, i.e. undulating contraction of the walls of the stomach and intestines. Food that has entered the stomach gradually moves along the gastrointestinal tract and this is accompanied by gurgling, rumbling, bubbling inaudible from the outside.
You can «listen» to these sounds only with a stethoscope attached to your stomach. Some time after eating, when the stomach is almost empty, its contractions are also audible to the naked ear, since an empty hollow organ amplifies sounds. In this case, the rumbling signals that it’s time to eat. This happens normally.
But sometimes rumbling in the stomach can become pronounced, accompanied by bloating. In this case, it is called flatulence — an excessive accumulation of gases in the intestine.
The cause of flatulence in a child of the first year of life may be ingestion of air during feeding in case of improper application to the breast. In this case, the air penetrates into the stomach and then into the intestines.
In a baby who is breastfed, rumbling in the tummy can also occur when the mother uses gas-forming products, such as cabbage, legumes, black bread, dried fruits, muffins, sweets, etc. or carbonated drinks.
Rumbling in the stomach can be provoked by a stressful situation when the baby himself or his mother is nervous.
It has been proven that under stress, the hormone ghrelin is secreted with the milk of a nursing woman, which, once in the gastrointestinal tract of the baby, triggers a cascade of negative reactions.
Recently, quite often in babies up to a year, the cause of disruption of the gastrointestinal tract is intolerance to cow’s milk proteins. And this applies not only to artificially fed children. When a nursing mother uses dairy and fermented milk products, cow’s milk proteins partially get into her milk and can cause the baby to have no less violent reaction than in children fed with standard formula.
Another reason for rumbling in the baby’s stomach may be lactase deficiency — a lack of an enzyme (lactase) that breaks down milk sugar (lactose). It should be borne in mind that congenital, so—called primary lactase deficiency is an extremely rare disease. Most often, lactase deficiency is secondary against the background of some other condition.
Lactase deficiency often accompanies intolerance to cow’s milk proteins and disappears when milk proteins are excluded from the mother’s diet if the child is breastfed, or by transferring the baby to a specialized mixture if he is artificially fed.
Gluten intolerance (cereal protein) can also cause increased gas formation.
With the untimely introduction of new complementary foods, and especially the first complementary food, for children under a year old, rumbling in the stomach may become a reaction.
Parents should keep in mind that babies, especially the first month of life, have increased gas formation, bloating, anxiety, stool disorder, along with other symptoms, very serious diseases can manifest themselves. At the same time, the baby’s well-being often suffers.
In children older than one year, an increase in gas formation can be facilitated by too early transfer to the so-called «adult» table, when the gastrointestinal tract of the child is not yet ready to cope with new food.
Any stressful situations, including adaptation to attending preschool and school, can also cause disruption of the gastrointestinal tract.
The cause of increased gas formation in children aged 3-5 years can be the abuse of carbonated drinks, excessive consumption of sweets, muffins, products with coarse fiber, as well as the habit of chewing gum for a long time, a sedentary lifestyle, excess body weight.
If a child of any age gets sick and has loose stools, then rumbling in the stomach cannot be avoided.
In each case of excessive rumbling in the abdomen in a child of any age, you should contact a pediatrician to understand the causes.