Is it Baby Reflux or Colic?
40-60 Percent of all infants suffer from baby reflux
Although Doctors are still unsure exactly what causes colic in babies, they now believe that gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or baby reflux is the most common cause. It is estimated that between 40 and 60 percent of all newborns have some degree of baby reflux in the early months due to an undeveloped lower esophagus sphincter (LES). That means that half of all newborn babies experience physical distress due to stomach acid in the esophagus.
Silent Baby Reflux is Hard to Detect
A baby need not spit up in order to experience baby reflux. This is called baby silent reflux and many of these babies will be mistakenly diagnosed with colic. While it's more convenient from a laundry standpoint, silent reflux can be more painful for your baby than spitting up since the acid burns on the way up and on the way down, causing twice as much discomfort and damage to the throat. Find our more about silent reflux in infants.
What is Baby Reflux?
Baby reflux is the regurgitation, or spitting up of the stomach's contents and painful acids due to an immature muscle connecting the stomach and the esophagus or reaction from something in the diet. It usually begins at birth or shortly thereafter, diminishes by 6 months and disappears by one year. A baby with reflux is not to be confused with a GERD baby (gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD is a serious condition that can require surgery to correct. A baby with reflux may or may not exhibit these symptoms of reflux in babies.
Start with Simple Home Approaches to Minimize Baby Reflux
Pharmaceuticals have not been tested for infant safety, although this does not necessarily mean they are not safe. Before turning to medicine, try using an infant feeding wedge to help your baby maintain the optimal position for feeding. Because colic and fussiness are often caused by undiagnosed and sometimes silent reflux, these baby acid reflux home remedies and alternative treatments for reflux in babies may also be helpful for easing colic and fussiness not caused by baby reflux.
Medical Alternatives for More Severe Baby Reflux
If your reflux baby is not responding to home remedies your pediatrician may want to prescribe baby acid reflux medications. If left untreated, severe baby reflux can cause long term damage to the esophagus, stomach and throat which can lead to many other health problems including Barret's Esophagus, Plagiocephaly, and Torticollis and Sandifer's Syndrome.
Discuss any side effects you may be concerned about with your pediatrician but be open to using medicine if it's in your reflux baby's best interest. There is a great links page at www.reflux.org where you can research side effects associated with certain medications. www.infantreflux.org also has more information.
Your pediatrician also may or may not want to perform some common tests for reflux in babies. Not all babies with reflux who exhibit signs should be tested. If your reflux baby is gaining weight well and seems generally comfortable, or responds to medication, your pediatrician may make a diagnosis of baby reflux without further testing.
Baby Reflux is Hard on You Too
Remember that reflux babies are at a higher risk for Shaken Baby Syndrome. If you find yourself becoming agitated or distressed step outside for a few minutes, breathe deeply, sing yourself a song, phone a friend or family member or try some of our other sanity tips for caregivers or ideas to comfort your fussy or reflux baby. Infant acid reflux got you down? We are here to help!
Stop surfing the internet and go to bed!
Download our free ebook, Living with Infant Acid Reflux to read offline. This is a compilation of many of our site articles from breastfeeding techniques for improving baby acid reflux to better baby carriers and sleep solutions.
Looking for Products to Minimize Baby Reflux?
Visit our online store for a complete line of feeding, changing and sleeping infant reflux wedges as well as other products handpicked for baby reflux. Our wedges are covered by most insurance. Find out how.
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Article snippets and links about baby reflux and colic:
"Another advantage of the angle of the Pollywog is better digestion. The Pollywog would be great for keeping baby in an upright position while feeding, thereby providing one more defense against baby reflux."
Product review of the Pollywog Nursing Positioner.
Read the full article at:
"One problem with some nursing pillows is they encourage baby to lie completely flat. To facilitate digestion and keep milk out of the middle ear, babies should usually be fed propped up at least at a 30 degree angle."
"Physicians used to dismiss these symptoms as colic…[n]ow they believe that at least some cases of unexplained, inconsolable crying may actually be reflux."
"By keeping the baby in an upright position both during and after breastfeeding, gravity can help keep the milk from coming back up."
Breastfeeding the Baby with Gastroesophageal Reflux
By Laura Barmby
NEW BEGINNINGS, November-December 1998