The complicated process of digestion begins the moment you put a piece of food into your mouth. Chewing grinds food into a pulp, mixes food with saliva, enabling us to swallow. In swallowing, food moves from the tongue to the pharynx, to the esophagus and into the stomach. A sphincter muscle, located where the esophagus and stomach meet, normally closes once food has passed through. This prevents reflux (backward flow) of stomach contents into the esophagus. An abnormality or dysfunction of any of these stages of swallowing is called dysphaigia (difficult swallowing).

The stomach, a hollow pouch of muscular tissue, stretches to store food while it carries out its major functions of mixing food with gastric juices, churning food, and eventually releasing it into the small intestine.

Once food is released into the duodenum (approximately the first ten (10) inches of the small intestine), it begins its rhythmic journey by peristalsis (repetitive, wave-like contractions) through the rest of the digestive system. Nerves stimulate the muscles of the digestive system to go, or to stop, and thus, a contraction begins, or never starts. The nerve control of these wave-like contractions is not yet completely understood.

Digestive enzymes continue to work on food as it passes through the duodenum into the jejunum, the next portion of the small intestine. From the jejunum, food passes into the ileum (the final portion of the small intestine) and then into the large intestine. The large intestine is less active than the small intestine. It moves the digested food through to the portion closest to the rectum where it is stored until defecating occurs.

Our Mission

The Mission of PEDS is to raise funds for the research, diagnosis and treatment of Pediatric Gastrointestinal, Motility and other related diseases, while supporting efforts to find a cure.