How do I know if my Baby has Reflux?
Newborn babies are subject to enormous forces when they are born, either via natural or c-section pathways, being squeezed and turning as they come into the world.
These forces can put a lot of stress upon their mouth, face and jaw, as well as their gut, which can compromise the ability of the digestive system to work as well as it can in its still immature state.
Additionally tensions upon the structures and base of the skull can irritate the baby’s nervous system and further affect gut function leading to causes for latching, feeding and digestive problems as well as a baby who’s fractious, finds it hard to settle and sleep, and is generally more held in a state of alert.
Infant acid reflux, often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when acid, mixed with milk from the stomach, is regurgitated into the throat, mouth and vomited, causing the acid to burn or irritate the food pipe or oesophagus as it leaves the body.
The discomfort caused to a baby if suffering with acid reflux, can present with the following symptoms:
- Persistent fussiness or being inconsolable, especially if put down or lying on their back
- Persistent vomiting or regurgitation after a feed or between feeds
- Arching of their backs, often during or right after feeding
- Trouble feeding or refusing feeds
- Tendency to want to feed little and often
- Take a long time to settle
- Funny squeaking type noises whilst sleeping; wheezing or trouble breathing
- Infrequent bowel movements
How can I help my Baby with Reflux?
First ensure your baby does indeed have reflux or GER by taking them to a paediatric qualified osteopath or paediatrician.
Understand that baby reflux is a very common issue, can be the cause of huge stress upon parents and that you’re not alone.
There are many things which can help babies struggling with reflux including keeping them upright after feeds; mum avoiding certain foods, if she is breastfeeding; using gaviscon as an aid; adopting particular feeding positions; and ensuring regular burping around feed times.
When should I worry about Baby Reflux?
Baby reflux can, if it persists for many months unaddressed or if it is severe, lead to the baby losing weight or not gaining sufficient weight. This should be flagged up during your postnatal check ups but should you be concerned that this is the case, then consult your paediatrician for further advice.
Additionally if you see blood in the vomit then you should also consult your paediatrician for support and if necessary, further investigation.
What are the Signs of Silent Reflux in Babies?
Babies with ‘normal’ acid reflux will spit up milk or formula, whereas it will usually stay in the oesophagus for infants with silent reflux.
Signs that your baby may be suffering from silent reflux can be similar to those listed above, however others might include:
- breathing problems such as “noisy” breathing, or pauses in breathing (apnea)
- nasal congestion
- chronic coughing
- frequent hiccuping
- chronic respiratory conditions (such as bronchitis) and ear infections
- difficulty breathing (your child may develop asthma)
- a slightly elevated temperature
- failure to thrive, which may be diagnosed by a doctor if your baby isn’t growing and gaining weight at the expected rate for their age
Can you hear Silent Reflux in Babies?
The lack of regurgitation in babies, as frequently is the case in silent reflux, means that the acid from the stomach remains in the upper digestive tract and can pass to the back of the throat and nose. This can consequently cause babies who have silent reflux to make wheezing sounds, have noisy breathing, grunt, cough, or appear to make squeaking type noises at night during their sleep, or even when they’re trying to feed.
When do Babies get Silent Reflux?
Babies will most likely start to exhibit symptoms of reflux or GERD or silent reflux between 2 to 4 weeks old, the condition can peak at around 4 months old, and will frequently subside at 7 months old.
Furthermore, GER or reflux is more common among babies who are born prematurely and babies with low birth weight. It’s also common in babies or children with some impairment of their muscles and nerves, such as hiatal hernias, cerebral palsy; or those with a cow’s milk allergy