Causes and risk factors
The digestive tract is not fully matured in the infants. Also, the lower oesophageal sphincter is not fully developed. This causes stomach contents to move backwards. Also, the baby is in lying position for most of the time. The diet consists of liquid which causes reflux. Other possible causes for reflux are allergic gastroenteritis, GERD, eosinophillic oesophagitis, obstruction.
It is very usual that infants spit out little bit of feeds but if this persists or presents as vomiting it is termed as infant acid reflux. The baby brings up little milk, vomits or splutters short time after feeding. The baby may act fussy or become uncomfortable during reflux. The child may be coughing, choking for breath. It may be irritable. The child is prone to develop respiratory tract infection due to aspiration.
Medical history by the patient’s parents and Clinical examination by the paediatrician helps in diagnosis. No tests are required if the baby is healthy otherwise, playful and growing well. If doctor suspects a severe problem tests such as blood, urine, oesophageal pH monitoring are recommended. Imaging studies such as upper GI series [X rays of upper GIT], endoscopy, USG may be useful for further evaluation.
Treatment depends upon the underlying cause. If there is no specific cause, feeding small frequent meals, keeping baby upright after feeding, burping the baby after meals will help in reducing reflux. If allergy is the cause, avoiding the allergic substance from mother’s diet in breast fed babies may be useful. In rare cases surgical intervention for tightening the lower oesophageal sphincter is needed.
Other Modes of treatment
The other modes of treatment can also be effective in treating infant reflux. Homoeopathy is a science which deals with individualization considers a person in a holistic way. This science can be helpful in combating the symptoms. Similarly the ayurvedic system of medicine which uses herbal medicines and synthetic derivates are also found to be effective in treating infant reflux.