Tip of the Week: Gastroparesis

People with Prader-Willi syndrome have different GI systems than a typical person. Where food that we eat is processed and moved through our stomach in a matter of a few hours, sometimes in the person with PWS this process takes far longer. This is called slow gastric motility. When someone has slow gastric motility, it can cause Gastroparesis. The danger of this condition is that food builds up in the stomach without moving to the intestines which can cause the stomach to rupture. Basically, they are piling food on top of food until the stomach bursts. There are only a few signs of this happening, and once it happens it cannot be fixed. This condition can happen after rapid weight gain or binge eating.  The signs are:

  • a lack of – or a change in – bowel movements,

  • hard or distended abdomen,

  • strong smelling gas (usually burping),

  • complaints of stomach pain, and

  • refusing food (this is a very serious sign of imminent distress).

If any of these signs are observed, seek medical care immediately.


Patrice Carroll is Latham Centers’ world-renowned Prader-Willi Syndrome specialist. She works with Latham Centers’ residents with PWS, their families, and consultants, continuously learning and teaching about PWS best practices.

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