Learn About Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants

What is the definition of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when stomach contents leak backward from the stomach into the esophagus. This causes "spitting up" in infants.

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What are the alternative names for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Reflux - infants

What are the causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

When a person eats, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. The esophagus is called the food pipe or swallowing tube.

A ring of muscle fibers prevents food at the top of the stomach from moving up into the esophagus. These muscle fibers are called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. If this muscle does not close well, food can leak back into the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux.

A small amount of gastroesophageal reflux is normal in young infants. However, ongoing reflux with frequent vomiting can irritate the esophagus and make the infant fussy. Severe reflux that causes weight loss or breathing problems is not normal.

What are the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Symptoms may include:

  • Cough, especially after eating
  • Excessive crying as if in pain
  • Excessive vomiting during the first few weeks of life; worse after eating
  • Extremely forceful vomiting
  • Not feeding well
  • Refusing to eat
  • Slow growth
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing or other breathing problems
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What are the current treatments for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Often, no feeding changes are needed for infants who spit up but are growing well and seem otherwise content.

Your provider may suggest simple changes to help the symptoms such as:

  • Burp the baby after drinking 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters) of formula, or after feeding on each side if breastfeeding.
  • Add 1 tablespoon (2.5 grams) of rice cereal to 2 ounces (60 milliliters) of formula, milk, or expressed breast milk. If needed, change the nipple size or cut a small x in the nipple.
  • Hold the baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feeding.
  • Raise the head of the crib. However, your infant should still sleep on the back, unless your provider suggests otherwise.

When the infant begins to eat solid food, feeding thickened foods may help.

Medicines can be used to reduce acid or increase the movement of the intestines.

Who are the top Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
5
conditions

Emma Children's Hospital AMC

Emma Children's Hospital 
Amsterdam, NH, NL 

Maartje Singendonk is in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Singendonk is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants. They are also highly rated in 5 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Achalasia, and Swallowing Difficulty.

Elite
Highly rated in
32
conditions

University Of Amsterdam

NL 

Marc Benninga is in Netherlands. Benninga is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants. He is also highly rated in 32 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Chronic Idiopathic Constipation, Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and Bowel Incontinence.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
16
conditions

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Brussels, BRU, BE 

Yvan Vandenplas is in Brussels, Belgium. Vandenplas is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants. He is also highly rated in 16 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Diarrhea, and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Most infants outgrow this condition. Rarely, reflux continues into childhood and causes esophageal damage.

What are the possible complications of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Complications may include:

  • Aspiration pneumonia caused by stomach contents passing into the lungs
  • Irritation and swelling of the esophagus
  • Scarring and narrowing of the esophagus
When should I contact a medical professional for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?

Contact your provider if your baby:

  • Is vomiting forcefully and often
  • Has other symptoms of reflux
  • Has problems breathing after vomiting
  • Is refusing food and losing or not gaining weight
  • Is crying often
Digestive system
What are the latest Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants Clinical Trials?
Continuous Versus Intermittent Bolus Feeding in Very Preterm Infants - Effects on Respiratory Morbidity: A Multicentre Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial
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Initiation of Acid Suppression Therapy Prospective Outcomes for Laryngomalacia
What are the Latest Advances for Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants?
The efficacy and safety of proton pump inhibitors in infants with reflux.
Development and Use of a Calculator to Measure Pediatric Low-Value Care Delivered in US Children's Hospitals.
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Randomized Clinical Trial of Metoclopramide as Prophylaxis of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Preterm Infants.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: August 10, 2021
Published By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Hibs AM. Gastrointestinal reflux and motility in the neonate. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 82.

Khan S, Matta SKR. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 349.