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Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding may occur in any part of your child's digestive tract. This includes his or her esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, or anus. Bleeding may be mild to severe. Your child's bleeding may begin suddenly or start slowly and last for a longer period of time. Bleeding that lasts for a longer period of time is called chronic GI bleeding.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Stay with your child for comfort and support

as often as possible while he or she is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


Your child may need to rest in bed until his or her GI bleeding is controlled. Your child's healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay for him or her to get out of bed. Do not let your child get up alone. If your child feels weak or dizzy, have him or her sit or lie down right away.


Your child may be on a liquid diet for 1 to 2 days. A liquid diet will give your child's digestive system time to heal. When your child's symptoms are gone, he or she can eat regular foods.


  • Antibiotics help treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Acid-lowering medicine may be given to treat an ulcer.


  • Blood tests may be done to measure your child's blood cell levels. This information may tell healthcare providers how much blood your child lost. Blood tests also check for infection and give information about your child's overall health.
  • A sample of your child's bowel movement can be tested for blood or infection.
  • X-ray or CT pictures may show bleeding or problems in your child's digestive tract. Contrast liquid may be given to help your child's digestive system show up better in pictures. Tell a healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • An anoscopy is used to look for bleeding in your child's rectum or anus. Samples of bowel movement can also be taken and sent to the lab for tests.
  • An endoscopy is a procedure to find the cause of bleeding in your child's esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure to find the cause of bleeding in your child's intestines or rectum.


  • A blood transfusion may be given if your child has lost a lot of blood.
  • Fresh frozen plasma transfusion is also called FFP. Plasma makes up part of your child's blood. It contains clotting factors that help control and stop bleeding. Your child may need FFP to help stop bleeding in his or her digestive tract.
  • A nasogastric tube may be put into your child's nose. The NGT passes through your child's throat and is guided into his or her stomach. The NGT will be attached to a suction device that removes air and fluid from your child's stomach.
  • Treatment during endoscopy or colonoscopy may be done. Medicine may be injected into your child's esophagus, stomach, or intestines to stop bleeding. Heat or an electrical current may be applied to stop bleeding. Other procedures, such as banding, may also be used. Banding uses a plastic band to cut off the blood supply to a blood vessel. This stops the bleeding in your child's digestive tract.
  • Surgery may be needed to find and stop GI bleeding.


GI bleeding may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.