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Reflux in Babies Symptoms and Treatment

Reflux in Infants

More typically known as “spitting up,” reflux is when the food in an infant’s stomach comes back up into their throat and mouth. Reflux is a common occurrence for infants and does not necessarily indicate a problem. However, if reflux is persistent, causes the baby discomfort, or interferes with healthy weight gain and growth, there are treatment options available. 

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At what age does reflux start in babies?

Reflux can occur at any point during infancy and gradually improves (after 6 months of age) or stops altogether as the baby gets older (between the ages of 12 and 18 months). 

What causes reflux?

Where the esophagus meets the stomach there is a muscle called the esophageal sphincter that is responsible for containing the contents of the stomach. In infants this muscle is not fully developed, which leads to reflux. 

Reflux in Babies: Symptoms and Treatment

How do you know if your baby has reflux? The main symptom of normal reflux is spitting up without other symptoms. But some symptoms indicate that there may be a more serious problem, such as:

• Severe vomiting/projectile vomiting
• Green spit-up
• Spit up that contains blood or looks dark
• Bloody or dark blackstool
• Poor eating
• Poor weight gain
• Crying during or after eating
• Choking spells
• If your infants starts spitting up after 6 months of age


If any of these symptoms occur, it is best to make an appointment with Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group as soon as possible. Reflux could be a symptom of:

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) which occurs when chronic reflux damages the lining of the esophagus.  
Food Intolerance refers to a certain food that may be triggering the reflux, such as cow’s milk. 
Pyloric Stenosis occurs when the contents of the stomach are restricted from moving into the small intestine.
Eosinophilic esophagitis involves a buildup of a certain white blood cell called eosinophil damages the esophagus. 

These conditions are much more rare than the typical reflux many babies experience. If you have concerns, please call us at (856) 547-7300 for the Haddon Heights office or (856)294-5600 for the Mullica Hill office.  

Treatment: How to Help a Baby with Reflux

There are some infant acid reflux solutions that may ease the problem without medication. Some of those solutions include:

• Burp your baby more frequently during feedings
• Feed your baby more often in smaller amounts
• Keep your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after each feeding
• Change bottle nipples to one with a larger or smaller opening to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows

Diet changes

Most infants with reflux can be managed with the simple steps above. If your infant has more significant crying with feeding, or poor weight gain, one of our pediatricians should see them in the office. For many infants, the first step in managing symptomatic reflux is a diet change. For formula fed babies, this may mean changing to a hypoallergenic formula. For breastfed babies, we may recommend restrictions to mom’s diet. Please call us before making any changes.

Medication

Medication is usually not necessary for typical reflux. However, when reflux is severe a small dose of an antacid may help, such as ranitidine (generic for Zantac) or omeprazole (generic for Prilosec). 

Is Your Baby Exhibiting Symptoms of Reflux?

If you’ve noticed any severe reflux symptoms in your baby, call Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group at (856) 547-7300 today to make an appointment at the Haddon Heights office or (856)294-5600 for the Mullica Hill office. You can also request an appointment. If you’ve noticed some minor symptoms of reflux and you’re not sure if it is normal, ask us at your baby’s next well-child visit. We will be glad to answer any questions you have.