GERD & Reflux in Babies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Good luck. It’s hard work but persist with your doctor.

Switching sides too soon or too often can cause excessive spitting up (see Too Much Milk?). For babies who want to breastfeed very frequently, try switching sides every few hours instead of at every feed. Some older babies will start spitting up more after a period of time with little or no spitting up. It’s not unusual to hear of this happening around 6 months, though you also see it at other ages.

In some cases there are no symptoms at all. When GERD is suspected, many doctors first try a trial of various reflux medications (without running tests), to see if the medications improve baby’s symptoms. If testing is done, a 24-hour pH probe study () is the current “gold standard” for reflux testing in babies; this is a procedure where a tube is placed down baby’s throat to measure the acid level at the bottom of the esophagus.

Outside of our Parent Supporters, Netmums hasn’t checked the qualifications of users posting in this forum. For more support on baby and child health, check out our guide to UK parent support organisations. They work by forming a protective layer on a baby’s mucous membranes which line the gut, respiratory tract and other areas.

They may suggest surgery when babies have severe breathing problems or have a physical problem that causes GERD symptoms. There is a muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach. When your baby swallows, this muscle relaxes to let food pass from the esophagus to the stomach. This muscle normally stays closed, so the stomach contents don’t flow back into the esophagus.

Other babies vomit after having a normal amount of formula. These babies do better if they are constantly fed a small amount of milk. In both of these cases, tube feedings may be suggested. Formula or breastmilk is given through a tube that is placed in the nose. This is called a nasogastric tube.

According to Acid Reflux-Heartburn-GERD, some babies may not give any indication of pain or discomfort until they are about 3 months old. If your baby’s stomach is full or his or her position is changed abruptly, especially after a feeding, the stomach contents-food mixed with stomach acid-press against the valve at the top of the stomach.

Additional tests for LPR might include a barium X-ray and an examination of the stomach and food pipe, which involves passing through the mouth a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached. In infants, the muscular valves at the end of the food pipe are not fully developed. These valves keep the contents of the stomach from flowing back into the food pipe. Reflux is common in children up to the age of 1 year, and only those who have difficulty feeding or breathing require treatment.

Most of the time, it gets better on its own – often by the time a baby is one (NICE, 2015; NHS, 2019) . That’s because over a baby’s first 12 months their digestive system naturally develops and they spend more time upright as they start to sit up (Tighe et al, 2014; NICE, 2015; NHS, 2019) . It’s something many parents talk about but what is reflux? It’s basically when a baby brings milk back up during, or just after, a feed (NHS start4life, 2019) . This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only.

While there may not be sick to clean up, feeding can still be difficult. It’s normal to feel disheartened, but rest assured that this phase should pass as your baby’s digestive system develops. pH monitoring, which involves placing a small catheter through the nose and into the throat and esophagus; here, sensors detect acid, and a small computer worn at the waist records findings during a 24-hour period.

If the spitting up is very frequent (particularly if baby does not seem well), consider the possibility of a GI illness. Breastmilk oversupply or forceful let-down (milk ejection reflex) can cause reflux-like symptoms, and usually can be remedied with simple measures. If your baby is a ‘Happy Spitter’ -gaining weight well, spitting up without discomfort and content most of the time – spitting up is a laundry & social problem rather than a medical issue.

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