A Mom Trusts Her Gut

June 8, 2018

Pediatric gastroenterologist helps solve Manalapan infant’s feeding issues.

As a baby, Giavanna “Gia” Delmas, now 3 years old, constantly screamed in pain. Doctors initially dismissed her as colicky and said she would grow out of it. When Gia didn’t improve, they switched her formula. But after seven changes, nothing had helped. As Gia grew, she continued to have tantrums and refused to eat solid foods.

A Gut Feeling

“I knew Gia was suffering and something wasn’t right, but no one listened,” recalls her mom, Christine, a special education teacher. Christine took Gia to a pediatric gastroenterologist, who believed the infant’s issues were milk-related. But a colleague of Christine’s suggested that, in addition to a milk allergy, Gia may have sensory processing issues that were causing oversensitivity to things in her environment. During an emergency department visit, Christine sought an evaluation that confirmed the problem.

Seeking Expertise

Looking for a medical professional who could put together all the pieces of the puzzle and find a lasting solution for Gia, Christine turned to the experts at Hackensack Meridian Health. She made an appointment with Beth Loveridge-Lenza, D.O., a pediatric gastroenterologist with K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “The first appointment was absolutely life-changing,” says Christine. “Dr. Beth was the first doctor to hear my whole story and make sense of Gia’s issues — from feeding and toileting to response to various triggers.” Dr. Loveridge-Lenza confirmed that Gia’s sensory issues were a major part of her feeding problems and recommended feeding therapy. “Sensory processing issues are extremely common among children and can significantly affect how a child eats and interacts with food,” explains Dr. Loveridge-Lenza. “Feeding therapy can help children overcome these issues and get the nutrition and variety of foods they need.”

Progress Through Therapy

Dr. Loveridge-Lenza works with a team of feeding therapists at The Children’s Hospital and helped coordinate an appointment for Christine with Josie Shimkus. “I was terrified to bring Gia to Josie. She was only 2 at the time and had severe separation anxiety. But Josie knew exactly how to work with her. It was amazing,” explains Christine. “Gia entered the program in July 2016 and graduated just one year later a completely different child.” Today, Gia is a typical preschooler. She loves jumping on trampolines and playing with friends. She’s also growing well and enjoys all sorts of foods — from roasted turkey and grilled chicken to apples and carrots. “It’s important to find a doctor who looks at the whole picture,” says Christine. “I’m thrilled we finally found the help we needed.

Learn more about K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital and Dr. Lenza at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.