- G tubes can be great for: children who are struggling to get enough calories or liquids; those with terrible reflux and vomiting; children without a suckle reflex or trouble controlling throat muscles such as dysphasia resulting in trouble swallowing; structural abnormalities of the upper gastric system, mouth or sinuses; children who aspirate and inhale their food; and children who cannot or will not eat for other reasons. The tube is a long term solution to safely feed a child, helping them gain weight and get all the calories and nutrients they need until such time as they are able to eat and drink safely, or if that is not possible, to help them be well-nourished throughout their life.
- G tubes can be managed at home by parents or caregivers. As long as the tube area is kept clean and dry, care is relatively easy.
- Children with food allergies and sensitivities can safely tube feed other foods.
- Formulas, water, juice and thin purees can be fed through a G tube.
- Children who stop eating and drinking when they get sick can be kept hydrated and nourished using the G tube. Kids who would otherwise have to go to the hospital to get IV fluids can be safely treated at home.
- Many liquid medicines can be given through the tube so it doesn’t matter if your little one balks at swallowing meds.
- Kids with slow emptying stomachs or who are sensitive and vomit with large meals can be fed by slow continuous feed with a pump. The pump can also be used to feed while the child is sleeping.
- The G tube button can be replaced at home if it gets pulled out or when it is ready to be replaced. It can be replaced every six months by following the directions in the box. It is very easy for parents or caregivers to do at home.
- Children can swim with G tubes once the surgical site is fully healed and the doctor says it’s ok.
- G tube buttons are very low profile. If a child is wearing a loose shirt, it can’t be seen.
- G tube buttons and PEGS are removed and the site closes without surgery normally. A G tube site is only closed surgically if there is a problem.
- G tubes can be used to remove excess air from the tummy reducing the amount of gas your child will have.
- Most surgeries can be done with very small incisions and minimal scarring.
- G tubes leak a little and your child may have occasional leaks bad enough to get their shirt wet. If you’re out and it leaks a little, a child may smell a little funny if they had something like milk in their stomach and it leaks.
- G tubes must be kept clean and dry to avoid infection or complications. Parents and caregivers have to be vigilant about ensuring the tube site gets cleaned.
- Parents have to purchase medical supplies to manage the tube, which may be expensive. Some items you might need include replacement G tubes every six months, gauze and medical tape, extension sets, large syringes for bolus feeds, feeding bags and feeding pump rental or purchase, protective belts and ointment to keep the surgical site dry. Medicaid and insurance companies should cover most or all of the costs of medical supplies if an in-network supply company is used. You may be able to get some donated supplies through special needs organizations or other people whose child no longer needs the supplies.
- Some children like to grab and pull on the tubes. There are medical devices such as belts to help keep little hands off, but these may be hot, make them sweat or be uncomfortable, or they may remove them.
- There will be small scars from the surgery and a scar remaining after the tube is removed.
- There are always some risks with any surgery, however the G tube surgery is routine and low risk.
- If you feed your child in public, you may get curious stares and questions from other people. If you need to feed continuously with the pump while you’re out, you have to carry the pump and equipment with you and ensure the battery is charged.
- A child may dislike looking different in a situation where someone else sees his or her stomach.
- You have to be cautious of accidently pulling on the tube when you do things like pick up your child, change his or her clothing and give your child a bath.
- A reluctant eater may become even more reluctant if they no longer have to eat at all for sustenance.
There are many things to consider when deciding whether to have your child get a G tube. Try talking to parents whose child has a G tube for more perspectives.
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