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Reflux – when babies bring up milk during or shortly after feeding – is pretty common. It isn’t usually a cause for concern and you don’t normally need to get medical advice if your baby seems otherwise happy and healthy, and is gaining weight appropriately.
However, in some cases, babies suffer from extreme reflux – also known as GORD (Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease). This is a long-term form of reflux where the stomach contents rise up and irritate the child’s throat. It can be painful and is often misdiagnosed as colic.
What causes GORD?
The muscle and valve that lead into the stomach are not working properly, which allows the feed, along with gastric acid, to be regurgitated causing the contents of the stomach to flow back up into the oesophagus. You can also have “silent reflux”, when the child is not actually sick.
Common symptoms include vomiting or spitting, arching the back, irritability, frequent hiccups, gagging and choking, raspy wheezy cough, very windy but problems burping, poor sleep patterns, excessive feeding or refusal to feed, bouts of inconsolable crying and white covering on the tongue (not oral thrush).
Is there a cure?
No, but it can be controlled. Give your baby smaller, more frequent feeds. Keep baby’s body straight whilst feeding and hold your baby upright for a while after feeding – do not lay them flat on their backs after the feed. Prop the cot up whilst the baby is asleep. A feed thickener can be added to milk or expressed breast milk or a pre-thickened formula can be tried.
Find out more about Reflux at www.nhs.uk/conditions/reflux-in-babies/
This article is not intended as medical advice. If you are concerned about your baby, you should contact your GP, health visitor or midwife.