Acid Reflux


While it is common for infants and very young children to spit up a meal every now and then, frequent vomiting and difficulty in feeding that leads to weight loss could be a sign of an underlying problem known as acid reflux. Here is more information on this pediatric condition.

WHAT IS ACID REFLUX?

Acid reflux, technically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is a condition where stomach content, which includes gastric acid, is pushed in an upward movement into the mouth or even out of it. Although more common in adults, children can suffer from acid reflux, as well.

WHAT CAUSES ACID REFLUX IN INFANTS AND CHILDREN?

Acid reflux in babies is usually caused by a poorly functioning gastrointestinal tract. Infants do not have to be unhealthy to have this condition, yet there are others who acquire this problem due to underlying conditions involving the muscles, brain, or nerves. GERD can be the result of a child’s immature digestive system, but this is usually outgrown after a baby’s first year.

In older children, GERD can be caused by various factors that are similar to the causes of acid reflux in adults. Particularly, if children have suffered from acid reflux when they were infants, they are more likely to re-acquire it after a few years. Triggering factors that dictate the relaxation of the muscular valve between the esophagus and the stomach are usually the cause of acid reflux.

WHAT LIFESTYLE FACTORS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO ACID REFLUX?

There are also certain lifestyle factors that can contribute to the occurrence of GERD in children: overeating, obesity, consuming caffeine, eating too much spicy or fried food, carbonation, and taking certain medications. The condition can also have genetic predisposition, as it commonly runs in families.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ACID REFLUX?

The most common symptom of acid reflux in babies and children is heartburn that worsens after eating and can last up to two hours. Acid reflux can lead to problems during feeding, including frequent vomiting or regurgitation of food, wet hiccups, and wheezing or choking (especially if the food and other contents of the stomach end up in the windpipe and lungs). If a baby has this condition, the spitting up could continue until his or her first birthday. Since acid reflux can ultimately lead to weight loss or failure to gain weight, it is important to consult a pediatric specialist immediately if your child is showing the symptoms detailed above.

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