Acid Reflux or GERD

In babies, Gastroesophageal Reflux occurs when an infant's muscular sphincter—where the esophagus enters the stomach—allows acidic, gastric (stomach) fluids to reflux, or flow backwards up into the esophagus and sometimes reach as high as the mouth or nose.

Reflux is a condition that is normal and temporary for the vast majority of babies. Spitting up tends to peak at 4 months and most infants stop spitting up by 12 months of age.

  • If your baby is spitting up without discomfort and is making appropriate weight gains, then your baby is probably a normal "spitter".
  • When spiting up is severe or persistent and causes other problems for your baby, such as interfering with weight gain, pneumonia or vomiting blood, it is considered a condition called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.

Things that you can do at home to help reduce spitting up:

  • Provide smaller feedings
  • Burp more frequently
  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule
  • Keep the baby away from tobacco smoke
  • Avoid tight diapers and waistbands to help reduce spitting up
  • For formula fed infants, feedings can be thickened with rice cereal
  • Keep infant upright for at least 30 minutes after meals
  • Avoid car seat positioning in the home

For older children:

  • Have your child eat smaller meals more often
  • Avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
  • Elevate the head of the bed 30 degrees
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, chocolate, caffeine, and foods that are high in fat (french fries and pizza) or contain a lot of acid (citrus, pickles, tomato products) or spicy foods
  • Avoid large meals prior to exercise
  • Help your child lose weight if he or she is overweight
  • Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke

Worrisome Symptoms of Reflux Disease

Infants (0 - 24 months old)

  1. Vomiting associated with: blood; green or yellow fluid
  2. Inconsolable or severe crying and irritability
  3. Persistent food refusal; poor growth or failure to thrive; difficulty eating
  4. Breathing problems: difficulty breathing; repeat bouts of pneumonia; breathing stops; turning blue; chronic cough; wheezing; frequent choking

Children (2 - 12 year olds)

  1. Repeated vomiting associated with: blood; green or yellow fluid; weight loss or poor weight gain
  2. Frequent sensation of food or liquid coming up into the back of the throat or mouth
  3. Frequent discomfort in the stomach or chest
  4. Swallowing problems: discomfort with the act of swallowing; pain with swallowing; sensation that food gets stuck on the way down
  5. Breathing problems: wheezing; chronic cough or recurrent pneumonia; hoarseness; asthma

Teenagers (13+ years old)

  1. Repeated vomiting associated with: blood; green or yellow fluid; weight loss or poor weight gain
  2. Frequent sensation of food or liquid coming up into the back of the throat or mouth
  3. Frequent discomfort in the stomach or chest; heartburn
  4. Swallowing problems: discomfort with the act of swallowing; pain with swallowing; sensation that food gets stuck on the way down
  5. Breathing problems: wheezing; chronic cough or recurrent pneumonia; hoarseness; asthma

Quick Facts about Reflux and GERD

  • You can develop GERD at any age
  • In many cases GERD in kids can be managed with lifestyle changes, and without medication
  • GERD often runs in families
  • Kids with GERD may have frequent complaints of abdominal pain or a tummy ache
  • Children and teens with asthma are more likely to have GERD

If you have concerns, speak to your healthcare provider or call 315-464-8444.