Tuesday, 29 May 2012

What You Need To Know When Your Baby Has Reflux

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Are you debating about pulling your hair out because your healthy and thriving baby is crying and vomiting yet again?  Don’t worry; you’ll be relieved to know that this may actually be perfectly normal.

Did you know that almost half of babies vomit at least once a day?  One in every five babies may vomit up to 4 times a day.  You may describe these vomits as effortless regurgitation, with earfuls of crying, back arching and ‘spills’ immediately or hours after a feed.

The good news is that almost all babies grow out of these symptoms of reflux completely by 18 months of age.

Remember, gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) is a symptom, not a disease. 

So don’t panic if your baby decides to ‘spill’ yet again today.  If you are feeling frustrated after having only just changed your baby into clean clothes, relax, grab a cuppa and read my tips below.

Conservative therapy

Try to remember, that this period of ‘possits’, ‘spills’ and 'vomits' are only temporary and the situation will improve and resolve spontaneously.

Have you tried to modify feeding positions to find out your baby’s preferred feeding posture? 

Do keep your baby’s head elevated by approximately 30 degrees during and after feeds for around 20 to 30 minutes. 

Babies have stiff stomachs and the distance between their stomach and mouth is so short that if you bounce them on your lap immediately after a feed, you may find that you’ll be changing both your own and your baby’s clothes yet again!  

Supine positioning during sleeping is also recommended and may be helpful.

You can also trial smaller, but more frequent feeds.  For example, if your baby is feeding every 3 to 4 hourly, consider changing the feeding schedule to every 2 to 3 hourly. 

Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for your baby.  If you have chosen to breast feed, it is recommended to continue to do so whilst you overcome this period of reflux.

For formula fed babies, a pre-thickened formula may be beneficial in reducing the frequency of visible regurgitation.  This does not however, treat the underlying cause of the reflux.

A study showed that when parents adopted the above conservative therapy approaches, symptoms of reflux improved in more than half the babies without the use of any medications.

In severe cases of reflux with multiple symptoms, cow’s milk protein sensitivity or allergy may be the cause of unexplained crying and vomiting.  It has been suggested that up to 40% of infants with severe reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) may suffer from cow’s milk protein allergy.  In this scenario, a 2 to 4 week trial on a cow’s milk protein free formula (for formula fed babies) may be beneficial.  

If your baby is over six months of age, you could also trial a soy based infant formula.  In some occasions where cow’s milk protein allergy is evident this may also be linked with soy allergy/sensitivity.  If the symptoms of reflux and history of vomiting persist even after a change in infant formula, speak to your GP or dietitian for further advice.

Seek medical advice if your baby is experiencing..
Repeated vomiting after every feed
Faltering growth (your baby’s growth is crossing lines on the growth chart)
Feed refusal
And your baby has also been diagnosed with other medical condition(s).