Newborn Medical Series: GERD
Gastroesophageal Reflux, or GERD, in babies is more common than some may think. According to Medline, GERD occurs in nearly half of babies within the first three months of their life, with most children growing out of it by age 12 to 14 months.
GERD is described as when the baby’s stomach contents come back up into their esophagus (reflux) and sometimes into their mouths. This can also be known as “spitting up”. This happens because a muscle above their stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) stays too relaxed or isn’t fully developed, allowing food to come back up into the esophagus instead of staying down in the stomach.
When does spitting up become a problem?
According to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, if your baby spits up but otherwise seems happy and healthy, he or she probably has something called “uncomplicated reflux”. This is normal and very common. If the reflux is leading to problems or other complications, then your physician may diagnose your baby with GERD.
Symptoms of GERD
Frequent spitting up- consult with your pediatrician to determine how much is too much
Refusing to eat
Crying and arching the back
Choking on spit-up
Irritability after eating
Not gaining weight normally
How can I help my baby feel better?
If you feel your baby has frequent spit-ups along with other symptoms listed above, contact your pediatrician to determine if medication is right for your baby.
Other ways to help GERD without medications:
Keep your baby upright after eating- we recommend keeping baby at a 30-45 degree angle after eating to help gravity keep the stomach contents down. We recommend about 20-30 minutes upright after each meal.
Never lay the baby on their stomach right after eating.
Burp your baby frequently while feeding.
Don’t force the baby to eat if he or she is not hungry.
Quit smoking if you are a smoker. Secondhand smoke can cause GERD in babies.
Possibly remove milk or soy from your baby’s diet (or your diet if you are breastfeeding). Speak with your pediatrician about this before implementing.
Add rice cereal to the formula to thicken it. The heavier weight of the formula can sometimes help keep the formula down into the stomach. Also speak with your pediatrician before implementing this.
The bottom line- when in doubt, always contact your pediatrician.
As always- like, comment, and share!
Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN