Successful Abdominal Pain and Irritable Bowel Research Receives Prestigious Gutrunners Award

The SEEDS program is a successful treatment program for families who have a child with severe abdominal pain and other digestive complaints, referred to as functional gastrointestinal (GI) problems. The results of almost a decade of research with SEEDS participants have recently gained attention in the world of gastroenterology, receiving the 2014 Gutrunners award from the American College of Gastroenterology. This award is given for effective treatments that incorporate exercise and nutrition, which is part of SEEDS.

This research with over 400 children has identified a “crisis” year, a time when symptoms increase sharply around age 12. Medical costs also rise dramatically as families desperately seek help for what at the time is an unknown crisis that often includes other symptoms for the child such as headaches, poor sleep, and anxiety.

Gastroenterologists, Drs. Michael Lawson and Amir Kalani have found that a brief educational intervention (totaling 3 hours) has reduced emergency room visits as well as GI imaging procedures. At a time in health-care where overtreatment can place undue burden on the patient as well as the health-care system, these types of issues are increasingly relevant. More tests do not always mean more relief.

Lawson explained why he initiated the program years ago, “I see adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who have suffered for many years and the degree to which they suffered was unnecessary. Understanding more about gut physiology and lifestyle changes makes a big difference.”

Stomach pain is the #1 reason that children miss school. At home, children often feel their pain increase because they are focusing on it more intently. Program psychologist Dr. Jessica Del Pozo stated, “Many patients do not trust the diagnosis of IBS because the pain is so excruciating. Anxiety builds and this compounds the problem. The search for relief feels endless.”

SEEDS stands for Stress, Education, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep. Lawson founded the program with a team including a psychologist, dietician, health educator and physical trainers with good reason – they all play an important role educating families about functional GI problems and what to do about them. The SEEDS program helps families identify stressors and the things they can change as a family, rather than just the individual with the symptoms. It prevents patients from cycling through the health care system with no answers.

See for more information and details about the SEEDS program in the book, The Gut Solution, by Lawson and Del Pozo. Kalani is now a GI resident at Drexel University.