While more than half of all babies experience infant reflux in their first few months of life, the condition usually resolves itself within twelve to eighteen months. Often times reflux symptoms are similar to colic or the average infant fussiness. Read on for some basic guidelines to answer the questions about infant reflux diagnosis and what you can do.
As a new parent, you should be aware that babies tend to spit up a lot. This happens because the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve that closes the throat) is not fully developed yet and the soft tissue allows for liquid to come back up just as easy as it went down. Generally, as the child ages this will be less of a problem, although it is possible that he or she may exhibiting infant reflux symptoms.
Apart from being kind of yucky, infant reflux may be an indication of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder), which is a severe variation of reflux which results in dreadful pain, sickness and poor weight increase. On the other hand, a different cause might be Pyloric Stenosis, which is a rare condition in which a narrowed valve prevents stomach contents from emptying properly into the digestive tract.
It is best to seek medical advice when your baby resists feeding but appears to be hungry, is not really gaining weight, has less wet diapers than usual and seems fatigued, spits up powerfully, spits up green or brown fluid, or spits up more than just a few tablespoons at the same time. In cases where your newborn sounds hoarse all the time, has diarrhea or problems with breathing, then definitely ask your doctor about infant reflux.
When nursing your baby, try to hold your little one in a slightly upright position by holding, employing pillows or possibly a feeding product, like the Pollywog Nursing Positioner. It is also feasible you might be simply giving your child too much at once. Experiment with smaller feedings, which may reduce the likelihood of regurgitation.
Should you be bottle feeding, you may want to try another bottle, like Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles, that were created to minimize air bubbles that cause burping, ear fluid and infant reflux. There are also alternative formulas that your little one might possibly digest better.
For infants with just infant reflux and no milk allergies, Enfamil AR is created for him or her. Having said that, in case the milk-based formula seems to upset your infant, soy-based, lactose-free or hypoallergenic formulas are available. In fact, roughly 25% of new borns in the US are on soy-based formulas. Isomil and Prosobee are a couple of widely used soy-based formulations on the market. Hypoallergenic formulas include: Alimentum, Nutramigen, Pregestimil, Neocate and Elecare.
You may also want to reconsider breastfeeding as an option because it reduces the incidence of infant reflux. Dr. Laura Barmby wrote in New Beginnings magazine,
“Breast fed babies seem to cope better with GERD than artificially fed babies. During breastfeeding, the motion of the baby’s tongue triggers peristaltic waves along the gastrointestinal tract. Human milk digests more completely and almost twice as fast as formula. The less time the milk spends in the stomach, the less opportunity there is for it to back up into the esophagus.”
In extreme cases, medication may be needed to treat infant acid reflux or GERD symptoms. Your doctor may recommend medication commonly prescribed to adults, but in much lower dosages.
H2 blockers like Tagamet and Zantac or Proton Pump Inhibitors like Nexium and Prilosec are common recommendations. However, medications should be used as a last resort, since they could be linked to an increased incidence of intestinal and respiratory infections.
Worst case scenario, some babies have undergone fundoplication surgery to tighten the muscle that allows food to flow back into the esophagus. Generally, surgery is only needed when GERD symptoms interfere with growth or breathing.