Q: My 5-year old grandson has a lot of smelly gas. I am beginning to wonder if there is something medically wrong, or is it just what he eats. I have never encountered this with a child before. It is becoming a social problem for him since children make fun of him.
Unfortunately, passing gas is a part of life. The average adult passes gas between 10 and 20 times per day. However, I understand your concerns for your grandson’s health as well as his self-esteem. So what can be done to investigate why your grandson is having more frequent, foul-smelling gas, and what can be done to prevent it? First, is he a healthy, thriving child? If he has had a history of poor growth or being underweight, then the foul-smelling gas could be a sign of an underlying illness that causes him to absorb nutrients improperly.For healthy children, some common causes of excessive gas include air swallowing, chewing gum, carbonated beverages and a high-fiber diet. Nasal allergies can cause excessive gas because of frequent sniffing. Lactose intolerance should be considered if his gas is associated with the consumption of milk products. Constipation can be associated with foul-smelling gas because large pockets of gas can build up behind the stool. If the gas persists despite diet modifications and treatment of constipation, then he should see his healthcare professional.
Q: I worry that my son is getting too heavy. He's only 3, and not obese, but a bit thick. Should I be watching his calories? He always wants to eat. Should I let him eat when he wants?
Being overweight at age 3 is associated with an increased risk obesity in adulthood, so it is never too early to begin teaching children about healthy eating habits. For starters, he should avoid sugar-containing beverages, eat 5 servings of fruits or vegetables per day, and eat meals and snacks at the kitchen table without television. If your son wants to eat between meals, then distraction should be used as the first technique. If he insists on eating, offer only vegetables as snacks. You may find the web site http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov helpful.