Are parents asking about frequent spit-up, reflux, and/or GER?

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  • About 66% of infants may have GER

    If you’re concerned about frequent spit-up, this information is for you.

    Surely you want to enjoy feeding and nurturing your new baby. But when common feeding issues like frequent spit-up get in the way, it can be a source of frustration. And if your baby’s doctor identifies this as common reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), you might be wondering what to do next.

    It can be comforting to know that about 2/3 of otherwise healthy babies may experience frequent spit-up during their first 3 months, with about 50% spitting up every day. Although it’s common, it can be uncomfortable, so it’s important to learn how you can help. While your baby’s doctor is the authority, refer to this Q&A to find some answers that can help turn feeding times into happier times.

  • Question Why does my baby spit up?

    Answer Spit-up is usually caused by immaturity of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that prevents backflow from the stomach to the esophagus. In young babies, this muscle is still developing so it sometimes doesn’t close all the way. This allows food from the stomach to travel back up the esophagus and into the baby’s mouth. As a baby gets older, the LES becomes more mature and better able to do what it should do — keep the food down.

    Question Is frequent spit-up/GER a cause for concern?

    Answer Since about 2/3 of otherwise healthy babies may experience frequent spit-up, this issue is quite common. As long as your baby is growing and seems content, there’s no need to worry that spit-up is a serious medical issue. Yet, if she seems uncomfortable and irritable, it’s a good idea to consult your baby’s doctor and make some adjustments that can help your baby keep her food down — and feel more comfortable.

    Is frequent spit-up/GER a cause for concern?

    Question Is frequent spit-up the same as common reflux and GER?

    Answer Frequent spit-up, GER and common reflux are terms that are often used interchangeably.

    Question I’ve also heard of GERD. How is that different from GER?

    Answer While GER is common, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a less common but more serious condition in which gastric acid flows back into the esophagus, which can cause complications that may require a doctor’s treatment. Babies with GERD display multiple complications such as refusing to eat, poor growth, colic, gagging and/or difficulty swallowing. If you notice these symptoms, see your doctor.

    Question Does frequent spit-up/GER require reflux medication?

    Answer When managing GER, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “lifestyle changes, which can include feeding and/or position changes as first-line management options.” Thickened formulas such as Enfamil A.R.™ are designed for babies with frequent spit-up.

    Question Why isn’t reflux medication recommended as a first-line management option for babies with frequent spit-up/GER?

    Answer Because many of these medications are intended to reduce stomach acid, which plays important roles for your baby, they are explicitly recommended only for babies with GERD. Lifestyle changes are recommended as a first-line option for managing uncomplicated spit-up/GER. Reflux medicines should only be used under a doctor’s direction.

    Question How can I reduce frequent spit-up/GER?

    Answer Since the AAP recommends a change in feeding and position, you can try more frequent burping, feeding smaller amounts or keeping your baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding. In addition, if you are formula-feeding, incorporate a thickened formula designed to reduce frequent spit-up. Enfamil A.R. is clinically proven to reduce spit up by over 50%, while still providing complete nutrition for your baby’s first year.

    Question How does a thickened formula like Enfamil A.R.™ work?

    Answer While Enfamil A.R. may not seem thicker in the bottle, it is designed to thicken further inside the stomach where it matters. The thicker consistency helps reduce spit-up and helps babies keep their formula down.

    Question Why is a thickened formula recommended over adding rice cereal to regular formula?

    Answer Here’s why a thickened formula like Enfamil A.R. is recommended:

    • balanced nutrition is maintained without adding extra carbohydrates or calories
    • it passes easily through the nipple because it is designed to thicken further inside the stomach
    • there’s less mess and fewer steps so it’s easier to prepare

    Question Can I use a thickened formula if I’m supplementing?

    Answer Thickened formulas are suitable for babies who are exclusively formula fed or for those who are being supplemented with formula, even if it’s occasional.

    Question If Enfamil A.R. helps my baby, should she stay on it?

    Answer When babies are more comfortable, life is so much more enjoyable. That’s why many moms who switch to Enfamil A.R. continue using it throughout the first year. It’s good to know that Enfamil A.R. has complete nutrition like a routine Enfamil® formula, as well as brain-nourishing DHA.

    Question Will my baby outgrow frequent spit-up/GER?

    Answer This condition usually reaches its peak at around 3 months of age but can last until 12–14 months. By then, the muscle that connects the stomach and esophagus has grown stronger and is better able to do its job. Since it’s hard to know how long frequent spit-up/GER will last, try and find a way to help your baby feel more comfortable. That way, you can soon enjoy calmer, happier times together.

    † Compared to the same infants at the beginning of the study.