Your kid's 'second brain' could be causing all of those tummy aches

A lot, according to the researchers involved in one study.

Does your kid constantly complain of a tummy ache?  Well new research says it could be more than just wanting to get out of soccer practice or stay home from school.

It could be because of your kid's "second brain."  In other words, the neurons in their gut.

Dr. Jaime Belkind-Gerson, pediatric gastroenterologist and the director of the Neurogastroenterology and Motility Program at Children's Hospital Colorado told us a little bit more about what this means for kids.

"When the second brain gets injured, and unfortunately it happens fairly often, then those neurons start protesting and sending alarm signals to our other brain, to our first brain, saying that it hurts," said Dr. Belkind-Gerson.

Aside from a stomach ache, your kid may have bloating, digestive issues, or acid reflux.

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It is important to remember, though, that this does not only happen to children.

"The truth is, it can happen to anybody at any age," Dr. Belkind-Gerson said.

There are about half a billion neurons in the stomach and when they do not work, it can be uncomfortable.  But how do you fix it?

"Often, just telling the parents and the child that this is a problem of the second brain, that it will tend to get better because we know that there's great plasticity in the system and that the body is able to recover from an injury including new neurons," Dr. Belkind-Gerson said.

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Healing the "second brain" could be as simple as de-stressing and focusing on something besides the pain.  

Sometimes a lifestyle change might be necessary, like getting more sleep or eating healthier.  Occasionally, though, this is not enough and medication is necessary.  In severe cases surgery is required and a portion of the intestine is actually removed.

Dr. Belkind-Gerson's research team is working hard to find more answers about this subject.  It is currently hard to diagnose and the reasons for some neurons healing while others don't is a mystery.

To donate towards this research visit this link.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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