Most cases of infant reflux clear up on their own, helped by simple changes in feeding techniques, such as:
- Smaller, more frequent feedings
- Interrupting feedings to burp the baby
- Holding your baby upright during and after feedings
To test to see if the reflux is caused by an allergy to a protein in cow's milk, your baby's doctor may suggest that you eliminate dairy products or beef from your diet if you're breast-feeding.
If you feed your baby formula, sometimes switching types can help.
March 28, 2013
Medication. Acid-blocking medications are not recommended in cases of uncomplicated infant reflux. A short-term trial of an H-2 blocker such as ranitidine, or perhaps a proton pump inhibitor such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid), may be worth trying for babies who have poor weight gain, refuse to feed, have evidence of esophagitis or who have chronic asthma and reflux.
It's important to note that otherwise healthy children taking these medications may face an increased risk of certain intestinal and respiratory infections. In addition, prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors has been linked to problems in iron and calcium absorption in infants.
- Surgery. In rare instances, the muscle that relaxes to let food into the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) needs to be surgically tightened to prevent acid from flowing back into the esophagus. This fundoplication procedure is usually reserved for the few babies who have reflux severe enough to interfere with breathing or prevent growth.
- Gastroesophageal reflux in infants. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerdinfant/gerdinfant/ Accessed Oct. 10, 2012.
- Winter HS. Gastroesophageal reflux in infants. www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 10, 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. Gastroesophageal reflux in children. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Wilkinson JM. (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 31, 2012.
- Vandenplas Y, et al. Pediatric gastroesophageal reflux clinical practice guidelines: Joint recommendations of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) and the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN). Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2009;49:498.
- Full-term infants: Issues to consider: Reflux. Pediatric Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/index.cfm. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Schurr P, et al. Neonatal mythbusters: Evaluating the evidence for and against pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic management of gastroesophageal reflux. Neonatal Network. 2012;31:229.