Helping Parents Gird for the Battle Against GERD

Posted on Aug. 7th, 2014 at 9:00am

It is an all too familiar scene for many parents: They are enjoying a relaxing moment watching their baby contently nursing or bottle-feeding and then, inexplicably and unexpectedly, the infant spits up. And parents often worry: Is this normal, or a sign of something wrong?

Chances are that the parents need not worry. Most instances of spitting up are known as gastroesophageal reflux, or GER. A less common, but more serious condition is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The disease causes severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, refusing to feed or inability to gain sufficient weight, according to the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN).

GER can be fairly common in infants. Yet despite the number of babies with GER, a recent survey commissioned by Mead Johnson showed that only one third of mothers said they were familiar with GERD and only one quarter said they are familiar with GER.

“Given the unfamiliarity with GER and GERD, it is not surprising that many parents are unsure of the best way to manage their infant’s spit-up,” says Dr. Suzanne P. Nelson, Master’s in Public Health, of Children’s Gastroenterology Specialists in Glenview, Ill. “Medications are not always effective in managing reflux, and medical guidelines recommend first trying lifestyle and nutritional changes before turning to medication for managing infants with both GER and GERD.”

Dr. Nelson recommends the following tips to help manage common infant reflux: • For bottle-fed babies, consider a pre-thickened specialty formula – like Enfamil A.R. – that is designed to reduce spit-up.

• Keep your baby upright after feedings.

• Be careful not to overfeed your infant.

Parents can also take comfort in knowing that most infants outgrow their reflux by seven months of age and almost all do so by their first birthday.

Ultimately, parents should consult their child’s doctor about any nutrition and health concerns to determine which lifestyle management techniques or other approaches would be most effective in helping to manage common reflux in their infant.

In the interest of raising awareness about GER and GERD and possible treatments, we recently added a tab to our Enfamil Facebook page that encourages mothers to share their stories of dealing with reflux. To check out the videos, visit the Spit Up Reels tab on Facebook.