Reflux, gastroesophageal reflux (GOR), regurgitation, or “spilling” of gastric contents in babies is when the stomach contents effortlessly enter the oesophagus or the mouth. Usually, it is swallowed, but sometimes it spills out of the mouth. Reflux is very common, with around two thirds of babies under the age of 4 months having at least one episode daily. From 4 to 8 months this decreases to one third of babies, and by 12 to 14 months of age, almost all babies no longer overtly regurgitate. For distressed parents dealing with a very unsettled infant, this may be reassuring to know.
Babies have a shorter oesophagus than older children, and when this lengthens over time, symptoms often subside. In addition, the sphincter between the stomach and oesophagus (lower oesophageal sphincter) matures as infants grow, again reducing reflux episodes. Finally, babies spend a lot of time horizontal, hence the developmental milestone of sitting often assists to alleviate reflux.
Besides regurgitation, babies with GOR may exhibit:
These symptoms are either due to the volume regurgitated, or the acidity of the refluxed contents.
If your baby exhibits symptoms of GOR it is important to seek the advice of your health care professional.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) often presents with the more troublesome and severe symptoms of GOR, and may be diagnosed when GOR does not resolve over time. It is important to seek the advice of your health care professional for diagnosis and management of GORD.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides the optimal balance of nutrition and protection during growth and development.
Good maternal nutrition is important in preparation for and during breastfeeding. If you are considering bottle feeding, always seek professional advice as introducing bottle feeding, either partially or exclusively, may adversely affect breastfeeding by reducing the amount of your own breast milk supply and may be difficult to reverse should you change your mind. Consider the financial and social implications when deciding on a feeding method for your baby.
Improper or unnecessary use of infant formula may affect the health of your baby, therefore, always prepare and use as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
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