While reflux in new babies is relatively common, it can be distressing for new parents.
Typically reflux presents as a non-forceful regurgitation of milk and other stomach contents. Sometimes, as in the case of silent reflux, the milk doesn’t make it out of the baby’s mouth and is swallowed back down, so this can be harder to diagnose. In the first several months of life, infants take in huge volumes of feeds relative to their body weight. This is because they are growing and developing rapidly and they require a much higher calorie intake per kg body weight than older children or adults. A baby’s stomach is very small, and is sometimes unable to stretch to accommodate these volumes. Coupled with the fact the oesophagus in babies is relatively short, this makes it easy for stomach contents to overflow into the oesophagus and out of the mouth. This is often referred to as ‘regurgitation’, ‘spitting up’, ‘posseting’, ‘spilling’, or ‘vomiting’. This is usually effortless, but can be forceful. Approximately 85% of infants reflux and vomit during the first week of life and another 10% have symptoms by six weeks of age. Reflux is most common between one and four months old, but sometimes it can persist a little longer. Generally by the time your child is 12-18 months and settled on a diet of solids, reflux should be a distant memory.
Regurgitation or spitting up is generally common and normal in most otherwise healthy, thriving, happy infants. In a typical case of reflux, your baby will regurgitate milk after some or all of their bottles. This may be accompanied by arching of their back, excessive crying, fussiness, and being unsettled when you lay them flat in their cot. A cough may also be present, caused by the irritation of the regurgitated milk, and can sometimes lead to a case of croup. If the reflux you are dealing with is silent, you may experience some or all of these symptoms bar the regurgitation of milk. Reflux can be particularly bothersome at night when your baby is lying flat, as it is easier for the milk to come back up the oesophagus, which can mean many nights of unsettled sleep. These symptoms can be very distressing to parents.
Most cases of infant acid reflux will clear up on their own, but there are ways to improve the symptoms, such as;
If there is no improvement following some lifestyle changes, further treatment may include:
It is worth remembering that infant acid reflux is usually little cause for concern. Keep an ample supply of muslin cloths and always bring a change of clothes for yourself and your little one!
If you have any concerns you should always speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
Nuala can be reached at 027 63744, email@example.com, or call into Glengarriff Pharmacy any day of the week.