Infants and Acid Reflux - dummies

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

Every parent knows it’s common for babies to spit up after meals. However, if vomiting is frequent, the infant seems to experience pain or discomfort when feeding, or experiences weight loss, the baby could have acid reflux.

Generally, reflux in infants is due to a poorly coordinated gastrointestinal tract. If this is the case, the child will usually outgrow the reflux after her first birthday. In some rare cases, an infant’s acid reflux may be due to problems affecting nerves, muscles, or the brain. Be sure to discuss your infant’s symptoms with a pediatrician to make sure nothing serious is going on.

Usually, the only acid reflux symptom infants can share is spitting up or vomiting. Although a baby may show signs of discomfort, the stomach acid is usually not strong enough to cause irritation or damage to the esophagus or throat. This means babies usually don’t experience heartburn.

Reflux often occurs in infants because the LES is not fully developed. They spend most of their time lying flat, which also makes it easier for stomach acid to work its way out of the stomach. Babies’ liquid-based diet is another factor that makes them more likely to experience reflux symptoms.

Knowing when to seek medical assistance for your infant’s acid reflux is important. Be sure to consult a physician if you notice any of the following symptoms, because they may be a sign of GERD or other more serious medical problems:

  • Weight loss or failure to gain weight

  • Spitting up blood or yellow or green fluids

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing

  • Blood in the stool or dark stool

  • Frequent vomiting