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What to Expect at Your Pediatric GI Visit: Communication is Key!
February 25, 2019

Find a Pediatric Gastroenterology Doctor

As parents, we rely on the medical advice of our child’s trusted pediatrician. So when there’s an issue that requires another specialist, we may be apprehensive about trusting our child’s care with someone new. What can we expect from this kind of physician?

“Parents and kids have a lot of anxiety about the unknown when they come see me,” says Kathy Chen, MD of St. Luke’s Pediatric Gastroenterology. “So we try to communicate as much as we can prior to the first visit to put kids and parents at ease.” We asked Dr. Chen what parents can expect if their child requires a visit to the pediatric gastroenterologist.

What does a pediatric gastroenterologist do?

Pediatric gastroenterologists evaluate and offer treatment plans for any kind of chronic stomach issues including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, failure to gain weight, feeding problems, constipation or dietary issues. We treat infants, children and teens from birth up to 18-years-old for conditions like food allergies, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis, irritable bowel disease and GERD.

What can parents expect during the first visit?

Be prepared to answer lots of questions about eating and dietary habits. We also love to talk about POOP! But for parents, questions about stooling patterns are par for the course!

We will also want to designate a benchmark for your child’s height, weight and BMI so in subsequent visits, we can track how he or she is growing.

What happens after our first visit?

You’ll most likely leave the office with some homework, which could include keeping a food diary/journal and perhaps different elimination diets, depending on what we surmise might be the culprit for any issues. Much of our detective work is trial and error. We have special formulas for babies or toddlers who need them or older kids with intestinal issues that we might want you to try.

We also may send kids for blood work that can be done at one of St. Luke’s labs when convenient. In some cases, we may need x-rays or special radiology tests like CT scan or MRI. Some patients may need a special camera test called an endoscopy that looks inside their stomach or intestine and takes pictures, but this is all on a case-by-case basis.

Anything else parents should know?

We may talk about poop and things that make bellies hurt, but we don’t give shots! Kids tend to like that!

To see one of St. Luke’s Pediatric Gastroenterology specialists, call 484-526-7575 or visit us at the following locations:


Kathy Chen, MD

St. Luke's Quakertown Campus-Medical Office Building

1021 Park Avenue

Suite 30

Quakertown, PA  18951


David Blanco, MD

St. Luke's Bethlehem Campus-Medical Office Building

701 Ostrum Street

Suite 102

Bethlehem, PA  18015


Leo Heitlinger, MD

2571 Baglyos Circle

Suite B-29

Bethlehem, PA  18020