Gastroparesis is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, specifically from the child’s stomach to the small intestine.
The vagus nerve extends from the child’s brain to their stomach. This nerve signals the stomach muscles to contract, helping to break up food and move it along the GI tract. When the vagus nerve is damaged, it is unable to signal the stomach muscles to contract. The result is food that moves too slowly from the stomach to the small intestine. Sometimes, the food stops moving through the GI tract completely.
In children with gastroparesis, the vagus nerve has been damaged due to illness or injury.