Diagnosing GERD in Children

Caring for Kids With GERD

Does your baby or child have GERD or reflux? Learn what you can do to help reduce his symptoms.

By Jean Rothman

Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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Caring for a baby or child with chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be challenging. GERD causes food and stomach acid to reflux or flow up into the esophagus — the muscular tube that connects the mouth and stomach — after your child eats. Understandably, babies and children with GERD can become fussy and irritable. They may not sleep well and may also be reluctant to eat.

GERD symptoms include frequent spitting up or vomiting, nausea, coughing, trouble swallowing, breathing problems, poor appetite, and difficulty gaining weight. Untreated GERD can lead to laryngitis and even pneumonia since acid and food particles can irritate the vocal cords and the lungs.

Fortunately, there are there are ways to reduce the severity of your child's reflux even without medication.

Tips for Children With GERD

After discussing your child's symptoms with a pediatrician, try these easy changes in diet and lifestyle to help ease your child's GERD:

  • To help reduce the likelihood of reflux, try feeding your baby a smaller quantity of breast milk or formula, but more frequently than usual.
  • If your baby is bottle-fed, ask your doctor whether you can include a little rice cereal in the bottle. This may thicken the contents enough so they don’t reflux as easily.
  • It’s possible that your baby's reflux symptoms are actually due to a sensitivity to soy protein, wheat, or another ingredient in the formula or cereal. Be sure to read ingredient labels closely and talk to your pediatrician about whether a particular food sensitivity may be to blame.
  • Burp your baby often during and after feedings to minimize excess gas and added pressure on the stomach.
  • To discourage reflux after meals, hold your baby vertically following feedings or keep her seated in a completely upright position.
  • Don’t put your baby in the car seat when you’re not on the road since this position can promote reflux.
  • If you have an older child with GERD, serve smaller meals more often to help stave off reflux.
  • Remind your child to not to lie down within two hours of eating.
  • Let your child know that wearing tight belts and bending over can worsen reflux symptoms.
  • Be sure your baby’s diapers, or your child’s waistbands and belts, aren’t too tight.
  • If your child is overweight, talk to your pediatrician about safe ways to lose weight.
  • No baby or child should be around cigarette smoke, but it’s even more important when the child has GERD, since smoke can make reflux symptoms even worse.

In some cases, it may also help to raise the head of your child’s bed by 30 degrees (about 6 to 8 inches). Pillows alone won’t do the trick, so you will need to devise a safe way to elevate the bed, such as by securing blocks of wood or concrete underneath the bedposts.

However,do notelevate your baby or toddler's bed without first speaking to your pediatrician, since younger children can actually slide down their mattress if not positioned correctly. Additionally,do notuse pillows to prop up babies or toddlers, since they can block the airway and lead to suffocation.

Planning Meals for Children With GERD

Certain foods may aggravate GERD and should be avoided, including:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Fatty foods such as french fries or pizza
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic food, such as pickles, citrus fruit and juices, and ketchup or other tomato-based foods
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine, for instance in soda
  • Peppermint
  • Mustard and vinegar

Some foods may cause more reflux symptoms than others, so keep track of your child's intake for a few days to identify specific food triggers. Also keep in mind that children with GERD shouldn't have any food in the two to three hours before bedtime.

It may take a little trial and error to see what works best to decrease your baby or child's GERD. If your child's symptoms do persist, talk to your pediatrician about other treatment options, including medication. Rest assured though — GERD can be effectively managed.

Video: When a Child or Teen Has Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Dr. Mitchell Katz

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Date: 11.12.2018, 03:50 / Views: 31542