or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is a common condition affecting 40 to 65 percent
of infants. It peaks between 1 and 4 months and usually resolves by 12 months
of age. Babies that have GER regurgitate, or spit up, shortly after eating.
This happens when stomach contents return up the esophagus and into and out of
Cause of GER in Infants
cause of GER is an immature digestive system. The muscle that separates the
stomach from the esophagus can be underdeveloped in some babies, allowing
undigested stomach content to rise up into the esophagus. This muscle matures between
6 and 12 months of age, so most babies grow out of GER by their first birthday
with only 1 percent of toddlers having GER.
most cases, reflux is mild and normal. If you have a happy baby who is eating
and growing normally, there’s no reason to be concerned. Severe GER, however,
can indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastrointestinal
obstruction, which are rare but more serious conditions. Speak with your
pediatrician if your baby is not gaining weight, spits up large amounts, vomits
forcefully (projectile vomiting), spits up green or yellow fluid, repeatedly refuses
food, or has difficulty breathing after vomiting.
are some tips to prevent reflux in your baby:
small, frequent meals.
rid of excess gas by burping your baby more frequently not only after, but
your baby upright at least 30 minutes after feeding.
to breast-feed. “Research doesn’t show
that a mother's diet causes reflux in the breast-fed baby, even though this is
a common belief held by some,” says Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, spokesperson
for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
you use infant formula, switch to a thickened formula with the help of your
estimated 5 percent of infants are unable to handle proteins found in milk or soy
formulas. Consult with your pediatrician about alternative formulas. “Keep a
journal of all foods eaten and symptoms experienced, and add only one new food
at a time to pinpoint trigger foods,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel
Begun, MS, RDN.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you analyze a food journal
and instruct you on creating the best eating plan for your baby.
Long-Term Prognosis for Infants
assures parents that most babies grow out of reflux as their gastrointestinal
track matures. “Check with the baby’s
doctor to monitor weight and ensure your baby is staying hydrated and not
experiencing an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract,” she says.
if symptoms continue beyond the first year of age, especially if your toddler
is showing signs of poor growth or problems with breathing, consult your pediatrician.
Babies who frequently spit up may be more likely to develop GERD as older