What Are Reflux Infants?

You will often hears mothers talk about reflux infants and wonder exactly what this is. Reflux occurs when stomach contents travel back up the oesophagus. They may stay in this tube or they may enter the throat and mouth. More than half of all newborns experience this is the first three months of life, but most do outgrow spitting up by 12 to 24 months. Babies normally spit up. It is only when it become excessive that you need to worry there may be an underlying problem such as gastro-oesophageal reflux.

Symptoms that you may notice in reflux infants include spitting up, vomiting, irritability, coughing and a refusal to eat. These by themselves are not something to worry about as all babies have moods at times. It is when you are noticing a combination of symptoms that you may need to be concerned. Also, if your child seems to become more irritable after eating or napping, you may have an infant with reflux. Eating obviously will bring on symptoms. Laying down allows the contents of the stomach to come up easier so that is why you may notice irritability more after napping.

Reflux is a direct result of the action of the sphincter muscle. This muscle is what connects your stomach to your oesophagus. When you eat, the muscle opens and closes. For babies with reflux, this muscle also opens when burping. If the muscle opens at other times, food may be released and you will see the symptoms mentioned above.

Reflux infants will often outgrow this condition without help. There are some times though that you must seek immediate medical help. If your baby is projectile vomiting, get him to a doctor, especially if he or she is under eight weeks old. Excessive amounts of vomit, vomit that looks like coffee grounds or blood, or vomit that is green or yellow is not normal and means you need to get to a doctor. If your little one appears to be having trouble breathing after throwing up, race to the nearest emergency room. This is very serious. If at any time your baby refuses food for extended periods and doesn’t seem to be growing, you will also want to get him in to be seen.

Your doctor may recommend a number of things for reflux infants. He or she will tell you to avoid tobacco smoke as this will irritate the condition. Also, he may recommend smaller, more frequent feedings and suggest you burp the baby more frequently. Changing your baby before a feeding can help and you must keep the baby upright for at least half an hour after he or she eats. This will give the food time to digest in the stomach so it will not come back up.

Sometime medications will be needed to control the reflux. H2 blockers are drugs that prevent or block stomach acid production. You may know them more commonly as Pepcid or Zantac. Proton pump inhibitors, in contrast, reduce acid secretion and stop acid right at its source. Prokinetic agents are used to help close the sphincter muscle while also speeding up the emptying of the stomach. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these medications. Be sure to use them as directed so your baby can obtain the maximum relief.

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