What Causes Reflux in Babies?
Infants who have symptoms consistent with GERD and no severe complications may be given a therapeutic trial of medical therapy for GERD; improvement or elimination of symptoms suggests GERD is the diagnosis and that other testing is unnecessary. Infants can also be given an extensively hydrolyzed (hypoallergenic) formula for 7 to 10 days to see whether the symptoms are caused by a food allergy.
This muscle normally stays closed, so the stomach contents don’t flow back into the esophagus. This is one of the most common signs of acid reflux in older children and adults, but it may be hard to recognize in infants.
Do Babies Outgrow GERD?
“I noticed he was making a lot of choking and gagging noises immediately after feeding,” she says. “And his screaming seemed to indicate really acute pain.” Parks’ experience is a classic case of silent reflux, says Catherine Pound, a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. “An infant’s symptoms could include a hoarse voice, a chronic cough, pauses in his or her breathing, or asthma-like symptoms.” Other telltale signs are gagging and choking, throat irritation, sour breath, a constant runny nose and wheezing. Severe reflux that continues for more than a few months can cause damage to the infant’s esophagus, stomach and throat.
These babies may feed from both breasts at each feed, and go longer between feeds. You may like to experiment to see what helps your baby. Some babies do better with smaller, more frequent feeds. This causes less pressure on the sphincter muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach.
- Most reflux in infants does not cause other symptoms or complications and resolves spontaneously by age 12 to 18 mo.
- Per Donna Secker, MS, RD in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, “The effect of thickened feedings may be more cosmetic (decreased regurgitation and increased postprandial sleeping) than beneficial.” Thickened feeds have been associated with increased coughing after feedings, and may also decrease gastric emptying time and increase reflux episodes and aspiration.
- This procedure (fundoplication) is usually done only when reflux is severe enough to prevent growth or to interfere with your baby’s breathing.
- GER in infants is not considered a disease and does not include a “D.” In fact, GER is considered normal.
My older baby just started spitting up more – what’s up?
There seems to be a family tendency toward reflux. GERD is particularly common in preemies (due to their immaturity) and in babies with other health problems. GERD usually improves by 12-24 months.
More than 60 million Americans are said to have acid reflux regularly, and it causes numerous hospital admissions. Read about risk factors, including diet and lifestyle, and the many home remedies people can try.
Peppermint, caffeine, and certain asthma medications can make the lower esophageal sphincter relax and allow stomach contents to reflux back into the esophagus. Some experts believe that tomato-based products have a similar effect. If any food seems to produce reflux or heartburn, keep it out of the diet for a week or two and then reintroduce it. If symptoms reoccur, avoid that food until your pediatrician recommends to reintroduce it into the diet.
Consider testing with an upper GI series, gastric emptying scan, esophageal probes, or endoscopy for infants with more severe GERD symptoms or for whom a therapeutic trial is not helpful. Prescribe a therapeutic trial of feeding modifications and positioning if GERD symptoms are mild.
Web. Heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux, occurs when stomach contents flow backward and upward into the esophagus. Taste changes and coughing can accompany the burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat. MNT describes ten ways to treat and prevent heartburn, as well as the risks and warning signs. Learn more here.
Please remember that if you have any questions about your baby’s health-no matter how seemingly small-it’s always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. Some physicians may recommend elevating the head of your baby’s crib so that she is sleeping on an incline in order to allow gravity to help keep her stomach contents where they belong.