Baby acid reflux is a condition that doctors have not yet completely researched and that is often a little misunderstood as well. From recent statistics, one fifth or so of the eight million babies born each year in the US suffer from acid reflux, and babies with handicaps that are developmental or neurological are even more at risk from this condition.
In simple, physical terms, acid reflux is a problem in the digestive system, which can be corrected. In a healthy person, the lower esophageal sphincter (the name for the circular muscle acting as a valve at the junction of the stomach and the esophagus) stops stomach acid from flowing back up the esophagus. Acid reflux happens when that sphincter cannot maintain the acids in the stomach so that acids move into the throat sometimes attaining the larynx. Numerous symptoms can result from acid reflux leading to complications like pain, infections, ulcers, problems in eating, voice disorders and even cancer in the long run.
Baby acid reflux can be particularly difficult to diagnose and treat. Because an infant cannot give verbal expression to his or her feelings, it is difficult to determine if he or she is suffering from a medical problem. In addition, reflux condition is easy to confuse with usual vomiting in babies. For the first 3 to 4 months of an infant’s life, frequent vomiting happens in half of all cases, with a peak at 4 months. Vomiting is both painful and distressing when caused by acid reflux.
To correctly diagnose infant acid reflux, it is necessary to identify several further symptoms of acid reflux. Besides sporadic vomiting, these infant acid reflux symptoms include: infections of the middle ear, enlargement of the adenoids, pains in the abdomen, anemia, asthma, crying non-stop, awakening at night without reason, vomiting of blood (hematemesis), continual coughing, a high-pitched sound when breathing, repeated croup, resistance to feeding and inflammation of the nose and the sinus. The best solution for correct diagnosis of infant acid reflux is to have a specialist diagnosis performed by an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor or a gastroenterologist.
Possibilities for remedies to gastroesophageal reflux disease can be: medicaments, surgery and holistic programs. However, even for adult patients, surgery is rarely an option in normal situations. For baby acid reflux, neither medicament nor surgery is optimal answers. Medicaments may be sub-optimal in particular for infants for any of the three reasons below:
1. Medicaments treat the acid reflux symptoms but do not fix the fundamental cause of the condition.
2. Medicaments for acid reflux can cause multiple secondary effects that are difficult to identify in infants.
3. Medicaments for acid reflux can interfere with an infant’s immune system, meaning a weakened and vulnerable immunity, possibly leading to different health complications other than acid reflux as well as the aggravation of acid reflux.
Altering feeding and sleeping position was also seen to be of benefit in treating baby acid reflux. Research demonstrated that a transition to soy-based formula from cow’s milk based formula gave a 40% recovery rate for babies. Other research showed GERD symptoms juice products as an aggravating factor for baby acid reflux. The best solution to baby acid reflux is a holistic one while taking into account a global set of changes in diet and lifestyle. Strong credence is lent to this concept by research done recently.