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Heartburn in Infants and Children

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Dr. Minocha (http://www.diagnosishealth.com/minocha.htm) is the Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Digestive Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, and is the author of How to Stop Heartburn; Simple Ways to Heal Heartburn and Acid Reflux


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Lets us first look at Lucy's story excerpted (and edited) from the Chapter: "Heartburn in Infants and Children" in the book, "How To Stop Heartburn: Simple Ways To Stop Heartburn and Acid reflux".


"Lucy thought that it was normal for infants to spit up once in a while. But Brandon, her one-year old, had begun spitting up or sometimes even vomiting since he was a newborn and the situation had not improved. The regurgitations happened day and night and there was no sign of improvement.

Brandon also had trouble sleeping. He did have periods of fussiness during the day, but it was nighttime that was the major problem. He never slept through the night like other babies, crying miserably. Lucy and her husband were exhausted.

Lucy and her husband (and Brandon) got less sleep than before. At least when she picked Brandon up when he cried, he calmed down and fell back to sleep.

Lucy discussed her worries with her pediatrician. She talked about spitting up, fussiness, poor sleeping habits, and the arching posture that Brandon frequently exhibited as he contorted his neck and upper torso backwards.

Brandon was diagnosed as reflux disease. The doctor prescribed medication and also offered Lucy advice on positioning and feeding.

The positive change in Brandon began immediately. Soon he was a happy and content one-year old.

Yet before, some people had told Lucy she was being overprotective mother. She was probably spoiling the child or feeding him things that were not advisable. But the reality was that Lucy was a normal caring mother whose child had a serious problem".

The story of Lucy (and Brandon) is not unusual. It is a very common occurrence. Many of you moms and dads can relate to it.

Facts About GERD or Acid Reflux in Infants and Children

Many babies have spitting up problems that don't require treatment; however some infants really need medical attention. Your doctor is the best judge.
Most (not all) kids outgrow this problem by the age of 18 months.
Acid reflux or heartburn in infants causes chronic spitting up of food, poor sleeping, frequent stretching and arching of back/neck, too much fussiness, crying over an hour each and every time and frequent respiratory problems like colds and ear infections or asthma.
All the symptoms of acid reflux may be caused by other disorders besides acid reflux disease or GERD, so only your doctor can make accurate determination.
Aversion to food and failure to thrive may occur.
Only your pediatrician pediatrician can assess the situation.

Changes That May Help Baby With Acid Reflux

Small frequent feeds  
Holding baby upright for half an hour after each feed
Thicken formula with rice cereal
Consult a lactation specialist at your hospital
Do not give the baby caffeinated beverages, orange juice etc.
Discussion with your doctor

Acid reflux is not generally caused by formula, so a change of formula does not help acid reflux in most babies.

Common Parental Mistakes

Assuming that treatment will eliminate spitting. Spitting continues after acid blocking treatment, but the baby is now a "happy spitter ".
Assume that it is a life long disease for the baby. Most kids outgrow it by the age of 18 months.

Ignore the symptoms, which can be very bad for the child (and parent).

Assume that they cannot do anything about it. They can do a lot, and your doctor has effective treatment plans for acid reflux.

Think that it is their fault. It is NOT! The lower esophageal sphincter, the one way valve protecting the esophagus against reflux is not fully developed in many babies. This allows for reflux or regurgitation. However, the valve becomes well-functioning by the age of 12-18 months in most kids, and the problem does not continue beyond that into their childhood.

Kids With Developmental Disabilities

Acid reflux can continue to be a major problem. It may lead to frequent regurgitations, food avoidance, weight loss, frequent pneumonia, anemia etc.


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This is meant to be an informational exercise and NOT a medical consultation. Your doctor is the only one who can best assess your situation and offer you medical advice.


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