Reflux – the facts

Every mum hopes feeding her baby will be a bonding and nurturing experience...

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For some mums, whose babies suffer from a painful and often undiagnosed health condition, feeding time is anything but calm and enjoyable.

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If you have a sicky baby who struggles with eating and sleeping, a hidden health condition could be to blame.

Is it reflux?

Reflux is caused when a weak valve at the top of the baby’s stomach allows their feed, along with gastric acid, to come back up, causing symptoms including heartburn and vomiting.

All babies are born with this weak valve, which matures as they grow. Most babies will only ever experience mild reflux symptoms – simply a bit of ‘spit-up’, which is normal.

What are the symptoms of reflux?

However, babies who are more severely affected by reflux are likely to show some, or all, of these symptoms:

  • Crying in pain
  • Discomfort when feeding (arching, screaming, refusal, turning away)
  • Fussiness and irritated
  • Runny nose
  • Frequent vomiting or sicking up
  • Acidic smelling breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Coughing at night
  • Disrupted, poor sleep, waking up regularly
  • Wet burps
  • Hiccups
  • Constant feeding to alleviate pain
  • Hoarse voice, sore throat
  • Poor weight gain

If you think your baby is showing any of these signs, see your GP rather than attempting to diagnose it because the symptoms could also be caused by other medical problems, stresses GP Rob Hicks.

If your baby is old enough to be weaned, for some babies reflux may improve once weaning has started. It’s thought this is because the food is thicker than milk and is more likely to stay in your baby’s stomach.

For info and advice about reflux, call or Skype with The Baby Care Advice Line, run by maternity nurses and babycare consultants.

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Living with Reflux is a support group set up to help parents with babies who have reflux: http://www.livingwithreflux.org

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