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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease In Infants


Gastroesophageal reflux

occurs when food, liquid, or acid from your baby's stomach backs up into his or her esophagus. Reflux is common in babies. It usually gets better within about a year as your baby's upper digestive tract matures. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes other symptoms that can lead to other problems such as poor weight gain.

Common signs and symptoms of GERD:

The most common symptom is frequent spitting up or vomiting after feedings. Symptoms may be worse if you lay your baby down to sleep or you put him or her in a car seat after a feeding. Your baby may also have any of the following:

  • Irritability or constant crying after eating
  • Wet burps or hiccups
  • Wheezing
  • Dry cough or hoarseness
  • Gagging or choking while eating
  • Poor feeding and growth
  • Back arching during feedings

Call 911 if:

  • Your baby suddenly stops breathing, begins choking, or his or her body becomes stiff or limp.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your baby has forceful vomiting.
  • Your baby's vomit is green or yellow, or has blood in it.
  • Your baby has blood in his or her bowel movements.
  • Your baby suddenly has trouble breathing or wheezes.
  • Your baby's stomach is swollen.

Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • Your baby becomes more irritable or fussy and does not want to eat.
  • Your baby becomes weak and urinates less than normal.
  • Your baby is losing weight.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.


The goal of treatment is to relieve your baby's symptoms and prevent damage to his or her esophagus. Treatment also helps promote healthy weight gain and growth. Your baby may need any of the following:

  • Medicines are used to decrease stomach acid. Medicine may also be used to help your baby's lower esophageal sphincter and stomach contract (tighten) more.
  • Surgery is done to wrap the upper part of the stomach around the esophageal sphincter. This will strengthen the sphincter and prevent reflux.

Help manage your baby's symptoms:

  • Feed your infant thickened formula. Thickening your baby's formula with rice cereal or special thickeners may help decrease symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider how you should thicken the formula. It may also be helpful to hold your baby upright after feedings. Your healthcare provider may also recommend small, frequent feedings to help decrease your baby's symptoms.
  • Keep a diary of your baby's symptoms. Bring the diary to visits with your baby's healthcare provider. The diary may help the provider plan the best treatment for him or her.
  • Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around your baby.

Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:

Talk to your baby's healthcare provider about any new or worsening symptoms your baby has during your follow-up visits. Your baby may need other tests if his or her symptoms do not improve. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.