Acid refIux can also occur in an infant, when food backs up (refluxes) from a baby's stomach, causing the baby to vomit. The condition is rarely serious and becomes less common as the baby grows. Sometimes, it is also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). After the age of 18 months, the infant reflux is very unusual to continue.
In healthy infants, refluxes can occur multiple times a day. If your baby is healthy and growing well, then the reflux is not a concern for him/her.
An allergy or a blockage in the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause infant reflux. But that condition is very rare.
Infant reflux generally isn't a cause for concern. It's very unusual for the stomach contents to have enough acid to irritate the throat or esophagus and to cause signs and symptoms.
When to see a doctor
See your baby's doctor if your baby:
- Is not gaining weight
- Spits up green or yellow fluid
- Refuses food
- Has difficulty breathing or a chronic cough
- Is unusually irritable after eating
- Consistently spits up forcefully, causing stomach contents to shoot out of his or her mouth (projectile vomiting)
- Spits up blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds
- Has blood in his or her stool
- Begins spitting up at age 6 months or older
Some of these signs can indicate possibly serious but treatable conditions, such as GERD or a blockage in the digestive tract.
How infant reflux occurs
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, in infants is totally not mature. This can cause the backward splash of acidic contents of the stomach to the esophagus of mouth. Usually, the LES will open only when your baby swallows and will remain tightly closed at other times, which keeps the stomach contents at its place.
The factors that contribute to infant reflux are common in babies and often can't be avoided. These factors include:
- Babies lying flat most of the time
- Babies being born prematurely
- An almost completely liquid diet
Some more-serious conditions can also be cause behind your baby’s reflux. These conditions include:
The lining of the esophagus can usually be damaged refluxing back of the acidic contents of the stomach.
It is a illness that prevents the stomach contents like food etc from emptying into the small intestine by narrowing a valve between between the stomach and the small intestine.
The most common trigger is the protein in the cow’s milk.
In this, the lining of esophagus is injured by a certain type of white blood cell (eosinophil).
Infant reflux usually leaves itself without causing problems for your baby.
If your baby has GERD, then some signs of poor growth might be shown by him or her. Researches show that babies who have frequent episodes of vomiting may be more likely to develop GERD during later childhood.
Infant reflux usually leaves by itself. But still, your doctor might recommend:
- Giving your baby smaller, more-frequent feedings.
- Holding your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feedings.
- Interrupting feedings to burp your baby.
- Switching the type of formula you feed your baby.
- Eliminating dairy products, beef or eggs from your diet if you're breast-feeding, to test if your baby has an allergy.
- Using a different size of nipple on baby bottles. A nipple that is too large or too small can cause your baby to swallow air.
- Although recognized as a reasonable strategy, thickening adds potentially unnecessary calories to your baby's diet.
- Thickening formula or expressed breast milk slightly and in gradual increments with rice cereal.
Children with uncomplicated reflux are not given reflux treating medications. Although some medications that can prevent the absorption of calcium and iron, and increase the risk of certain intestinal and respiratory infections.
However, a short-term trial of an acid-blocking medication such as ranitidine can be given to infants of the age 1 month to 1 year. Children of the age one year or older can be given omeprazole (Prilosec). Omeprazole and ranitidine might be recommended in the following conditions:
Has poor weight gain and more-conservative treatments haven't worked
Refuses to feed
Has evidence of an inflamed esophagus
Has chronic asthma and reflux
Rarely, the lower esophageal sphincter is surgically tightened to prevent acid from flowing back into the esophagus. This procedure (fundoplication) is usually done only when reflux is severe enough to prevent growth or to interfere with your baby's breathing.