Guard Your Infant Against GERD
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Since the 1990s, infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux has been increasing. From recent data, children between the ages of 3 and 7 endure acid reflux symptoms between 2 and 8% of the time, and for infants the percentage suffering increases to 20%. Those infants afflicted by disabilities of a developmental or neurological type are more at risk to GERD.
Before relating the reasons and dangers of GERD in babies, we’ll look briefly at the cause both local and immediate underlying this medical condition. In plain words, acid reflux is when the digestive system malfunctions. The weakening of the LES is the most common cause for this. The LES is the lower esophageal sphincter. When it is not strong enough to keep all the stomach contents in the stomach, then those contents move to the throat and even past the larynx to get into the upper air passage. Reflux may also occur under normal LES pressure, for example after feeding, crying, going to the toilet and coughing. However there may also be serious complications of health involved such as infections, ulcers, pain, feeding problems, issues with the voice, going sometimes as far as cancer.
In babies, diagnosis of GERD can be especially challenging; Because of the small reservoir in their esophagus, infants vomit or regurgitate more than adults. Many infants are prone to this kind of vomiting on a regular basis as mild to moderate “spitting up”, happening without distress from the mouth or nose. Because of this GERD and normal vomiting are easily confused. To compound this, indications of something wrong may be difficult to identify, especially as infants are too young to be able to explain.
When your infant suffers from GERD, a number of supplementary symptoms appear. For instance, as GERD vomiting causes pain, babies who vomit too often, cry or scream for hours on end or lie awake continuously, might suffer from this. Other symptoms can include pain in the abdomen, enlargement of the adenoids, recurrent coughing, infections of the middle ear, asthma, anemia, vomiting of blood (known as hematemesis), a high-pitched breathing sound, croup that is repetitive, arching of the back and inflamed nose and /or sinus.
The danger of neglected acid reflux in infants is also that it may lead to serious complications? An infant who links feeding to pain may refuse breastfeeding and lose weight. Potentially severe conditions such as erosive esophagitis can also result from gastroesophageal reflux disease. For that reason, early diagnosis and treatment are required to make sure that your infant stays safe and well. Seeing a gastroenterologist or an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor is the best way to get a verifiable diagnosis for your child.
If a diagnosis of GERD is made, then parents of the infant must make a choice of treatment. Options of treatment for an infant with gastroesophageal reflux disease are of three kinds: surgical operation, medications (over the counter or prescription), or holistic therapy.
A surgical procedure known as a Nissan Fundoplication may be done to reduce looseness between the esophagus and stomach. Surgical intervention is however rarely considered, because of risk and severity of complications exceeding those of acid reflux itself.
Prescription medicaments are also to be avoided for the following reasons:
1. Medications try to address the GERD symptoms (such as production of acid) but neglect root causes, such as lifestyle, dietary and internal triggers and factors.
2. For adults and therefore even more so for infants, medications have certain risks. Reglan and bethanechol for example have not been testing for babies as prescribed reflux medications. Cisapride with its severe secondary effect of heart arrythmia had to be removed from sales. Other common medications have even more serious secondary effects, including pneumonia and Tourette’s syndrome.
3. Any kind of medication can cause dependency, and infants are particularly at risk concerning their autoimmune system that is still growing with the baby.
Were you aware that the best way to protect your infant from discomforting and painful symptoms of GERD is to choose a holistic approach in conjunction with comprehensive changes towards a natural lifestyle and diet?
Studies done recently show the benefit of all natural holistic treatments of GERD. For instance, studies done by Ravelli, Tobanelli and Volpi which appeared in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2001, showed that formula based on cow’s milk can result in delayed gastric emptying in infants with allergy to milk proteins. Studies by Rudolph, Mazur and Liptak also published in this journal indicated that changing from cow’s milk formula to a formula based in casein hydrolysate could be better for infants who vomit. And also, for infants with GERD, breastfeeding turns out to have significant advantages compared to any formula for babies, because milk from the breast is better for the digestion and gives faster digestive transit.
The conclusions above as well as many others reinforce the theory that infant GERD is not local in its manifestation (the esophagus only), but in fact that it is a bodily reaction to a set of factors that are internal, dietary and environmental. This explains why the holistic approach taken by holistic medicine which focuses on protecting your infant from gastroesophageal reflux disease can be safe and also the most effective choice in the long term.