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Gut changes: a baby’s first year

A baby’s gut continues to develop from birth and will do so until they reach early childhood¹. Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, such as reflux, colic and constipation, are common and can be a result of a baby’s developing gut². Although nothing to worry about, these conditions can cause discomfort for babies and stress to families².


During the first six months of life, infants are particularly prone to GI signs and symptoms that have no obvious structural or bio-mechanical cause¹. The immature GI tract and its associated nervous system and microbiota are not yet functioning at an optimal level². This can cause a range of disorders which, although not classified as organic diseases, can be incredibly distressing for the infant and, of course, concerned parents³`⁴. To learn more on the prevalence and impact of common functional GI disorders, read: ‘The health, wellbeing and financial impact of infant functional gastrointestinal disorders’.

Around 50% of infants will suffer at least one functional GI disorder before six months of age⁵`⁶. The most common one is reflux (which affects around 30% of infants), followed by colic (around 20% of infants) and constipation (around 15%)⁵. It is common for two or more functional GI disorders to coexist in the same infant⁵. Current guidelines provide healthcare professionals with advice to help parents effectively manage these conditions². They highlight the importance of parental reassurance and nutritional advice as the first-line management of functional GI disorders. To learn more about how this management approach can help reduce infants’ distress, improve quality of life for the family, reduce over-prescribing and protect healthcare budgets, read: ‘Optimising the management of functional gastrointestinal disorders in infants — a summary for healthcare professionals’. In the following infographic we look at how a baby’s gut develops during the first 12 months of life:

Our Careline
The information above is designed to help healthcare professionals support parents, but if you still need assistance, at Nutricia Early Life Nutrition we have two carelines with two dedicated phone numbers; one for your patients to call directly, and the other specifically for healthcare professionals. The Nutricia Early Life Nutrition healthcare professional helpline is staffed by people who understand what it’s like to be on the frontline of healthcare. Our team has over a hundred and fifty years’ cumulative experience, including hands-on experience in midwifery, as well as paediatric and neonatal nursing.

Our free healthcare professional helpline is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. Just phone 0800 996 1234 for expert advice on infant feeding and nutrition, including common infant feeding problems such as cows’ milk allergy, colic, constipation and reflux.


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