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Following the recommended schedule for well-child visits is important for many reasons. These visits allow your child’s pediatrician to give vaccinations, discuss concerns about your child’s health, and track their growth and developmental milestones. At one of Stella’s well-child visits her pediatrician was concerned with her weight and ordered a liver function test to check her liver enzyme levels. When Stella’s liver enzyme levels came back elevated, her pediatrician made a referral to the division of gastroenterology and nutrition at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

During her first appointment, Shehzad Saeed, MD, FAAP, AGAF, pediatric gastroenterologist at Dayton Children’s agreed with the pediatrician’s concern about Stella’s weight and liver enzyme elevation. At the time she was only 20 pounds and nearly two-years-old. Dr. Saeed started Stella on feeding therapy to provide her with the skills to make mealtime more enjoyable and nutritious. Additionally, she started taking medication and supplements, and incorporated new foods into her diet to help her gain weight along with work up for her liver enzymes which normalized at follow up.

Throughout her toddler years and into childhood, Stella slowly started to gain weight with the help of the interventions prescribed by Dr. Saeed. However, when Stella was 5 years old, she had a minor set back when she lost three pounds. Three pounds may not sound like much, but when you’re only 33 pounds to begin with, every pound counts!

After the three pound weight loss, Stella’s mom, Hayley had a long discussion with Dr. Saeed about a gastrostomy tube (G-tube). According to KidsHealth, a G-tube is a tube inserted through the belly that brings nutrition directly to the stomach. Hayley was against the G-tube because she felt like it was just a temporary band aid to a problem they had been fighting for several years already. Hayley and Dr. Saeed agreed that if Stella couldn’t gain some weight, they would proceed with the G-tube.

Hayley restarted Stella on her medication and started adding butter, oils and heavy cream to all her foods. Thankfully, she was able to gain some of the weight back and has maintained in the third percentile for weight. Now Stella is 6-years-old and 35 pounds. She still struggles with a lack of appetite, but it has gotten significantly better. And best of all, she hasn’t needed a G-tube!

When you have a child who struggles to gain weight it’s easy to get defeated. Hayley’s advice to other parents is to “find a doctor who you love and trust, and just keep moving forward. And when in doubt, add heavy cream to everything!”