Posts Tagged ‘reflux’

What is reflux?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

All babies spit up at times. But if your baby spits up more than usual, she may have gastroesophageal reflux or simply reflux. Reflux is common among premature babies. Most babies outgrow it after a few months.

What happens when your baby has reflux?

  1. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.
  2. Once the food is in the stomach, it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth.
  3. Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally.

What can you do?

With time, reflux usually goes away on its own. However, there are some changes you can make to how you feed and position your baby that may help:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding.
  • Try smaller, more frequent feedings.
  • Burp your baby often, especially if you are feeding her with a bottle.
  • Try a different nipple on your baby’s bottle so she swallows less air.
  • Ask your baby’s provider if you can thicken expressed breast milk or formula with a small amount of rice cereal.
  • Keep your baby still after feeding.
  • Raise the head of your baby’s bed 30 degrees or so.

If changes to how you feed and position your baby don’t seem to help, talk to your baby’s provider to see if medication may be an option.

When should you call your baby’s health care provider?

Some babies may have other problems digesting food. Call your baby’s health care provider if she has any of these symptoms:

  • The spit-up is bright yellow or green.
  • There is a large amount of spit-up.
  • Your baby arches his back or cries during feeding.
  • Your baby vomits with great force (projectile vomiting).
  • Your baby refuses to eat or is irritable after feeding.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Caring for your sick baby

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

soothing crying babyRecently, one of our health education specialists received an email from a new mom asking what she should do for her four month old daughter who was crying, not feeding and seemed hot to the touch.

The Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center has been answering questions from the public for nearly two decades. We provide scientifically based responses to questions on pregnancy (including preconception, complications and postpartum care), prematurity, birth defects, infant and young child care, delays and disabilities, and other health related topics.

In the case of this new mom, the health education specialist recommended that the mom take her baby to see her health care provider. Babies can get sick very quickly, and the only one who can make the judgment as to what is going on, is a medical professional who examines the baby.

But, often a mom needs information about a condition, and that is where our website can be an enormous help.

 Well and sick baby care is on our website

We provide tons of info on what to do if you suspect that your baby or child is not well. You will

Here’s a sampling of other topics that you’ll find on our website:

Croup
Ear infections
Cytomegalovirus
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Roseola
Reflux
Thrush
Teething

There are many more conditions -take a moment to look through and familiarize yourself with our website. It is rich with information.

Birth defects and special needs

You can also find information on various birth defects and disabilities, from autism spectrum disorder to thalassemia. You can learn how to get services for your baby after the NICU, too. Once you review the information, if you are not sure about how to care for your child, or would like more information about a particular health condition, send an email to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We will be happy to provide an answer to your question within two business days.

If you are unsure, or it is a problem that cannot wait, always contact your health care provider or take your child to the nearest emergency room.

For other posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

Heartburn during pregnancy

Friday, March 21st, 2014

unhappy pregnant womanMany women have heartburn for the first time during pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters. For some women, it just occurs every so often. But for others, it can be a relentless annoyance that gets worse as the pregnancy progresses.

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid is pushed up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach. Pregnancy hormones can relax the flap that separates your esophagus from your stomach and this can allow acids and food to move back up into your esophagus. This creates the burning sensation known as heartburn.

Pregnancy hormones also slow down the muscles that push food from your esophagus into your stomach and the muscles that contract to digest food in your stomach. This means that digestion actually takes longer during pregnancy. These changes can lead to indigestion, which can make you feel very full, bloated or gassy.

As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby can also put pressure on your stomach and contribute to reflux. This is why many women experience more heartburn during the second and third trimesters.

Several things can cause heartburn and indigestion, such as:

• Greasy or fatty foods

• Chocolate, coffee and other drinks containing caffeine

• Onions, garlic or spicy foods

• Certain medications

• Eating a very large meal

• Eating too quickly

• Lying down after eating

There are a few things that you can do during pregnancy to try to help prevent heartburn:

Graze. Eating five or six small meals a day can help your body digest food better.

Grab a spoon. A few bites of plain, nonfat yogurt can sometimes help relieve the burning sensation.

Eat smart. Avoid spicy, greasy or fatty foods, chocolate and caffeine that can trigger heartburn

Loosen up. Wear loose clothing. Clothes that are tight can increase the pressure on your stomach.

Sit up after eating. Remaining upright allows gravity to help keep stomach contents out of your esophagus. If you can, wait at least 3 hours after a meal to lie down or go to bed.

Prop up your bed. Use pillows to prop up your mattress so that you raise your head a few inches higher than your stomach as you sleep.

Talk to your provider. If you need an antacid to relieve symptoms, talk to your health care provider to choose the right one for you. Over-the-counter antacids are usually considered safe during pregnancy, but do not take them unless you’ve talked to your doctor.

For most people, heartburn is temporary and mild. But severe heartburn can be the sign of a more serious problem. Talk to your health care provider if you have any of the following:

• Heartburn that returns as soon as your antacid wears off

• Heartburn that often wakes you up at night

• Difficulty swallowing

• Spitting up blood

• Black stools

• Weight loss

What is hydronephrosis?

Friday, October 11th, 2013

urinary-tractThe urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra fluid. The kidneys filter out waste and deposit it in urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores the urine until you go to the bathroom.

In hydronephrosis, one or both kidneys swell because a blockage in the urinary tract causes urine to back up into the kidneys. It also can be caused by a backward leak in the urinary system (reflux), usually caused by muscle weakness.

Hydronephrosis is the most common problem found during ultrasound of a baby in the womb. The swelling of the baby’s kidney may be easy to see or barely detectable. Lots of parents have been told of the condition and that it needs to be monitored. Boys have hydronephrosis more frequently than girls, but girls do get this. If your baby should be diagnosed with this condition, don’t feel guilty – it’s not your fault. There’s nothing a pregnant woman does or doesn’t do that causes this condition.

When hydronephrosis happens to a baby in the womb, it’s called fetal hydronephrosis. In over half of cases it goes away without lasting problems and rarely requires immediate action, especially if it is unilateral, only on one side. The health care provider should keep track of the condition with frequent ultrasounds to see if it goes away or gets worse. Sometimes the blockage can damage the developing kidneys or can, in rare cases, become life-threatening for the baby.

Most babies who need treatment don’t need it until after birth. But if hydronephrosis becomes life-threatening before birth, Mom may need to give birth early or have surgery to put a shunt (small tube) into the baby’s bladder while still in the womb. The shunt drains urine into the amniotic fluid until birth. After birth, mild hydronephrosis may go away without treatment. If the blockage doesn’t go away, the baby may need surgery.

A baby with possible urine blockage or reflux may be given low dose antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections from developing until the defect corrects itself or is corrected with surgery.

What is reflux in infants?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

All babies spit up or throw up now and then. But some do so more often than usual. This is called reflux. Reflux is short for gastroesophageal reflux or GER. Reflux is common among premature babies, but full-term babies can have it, too. The good news is that most babies outgrow it after a few months. Only 1 percent of babies are still spitting up after their first birthday.

Here’s what happens with reflux. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach.  Once the food is in the stomach, some of it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth all over Junior and often you, too.

Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally while Mom and Dad worry if their child is getting enough to eat. But for a few babies, reflux is more serious and the baby needs medication to make sure reflux is not dangerous and that he is growing well. In rare cases, surgery to tighten the muscle that regulates the flow of food into (and back out of) the stomach needs to be tightened. This procedure is called a fundoplication. The University of California, San Francisco has a good article about pediatric fundoplication at this link.

If your baby is otherwise healthy and putting on weight, the doc probably will take a wait and see stance. In time, your little one should outgrow this messy condition. But if your baby’s doctor feels there is a possibility of a more serious condition, she may recommend a few tests. Tests can include blood and urine tests, an analysis of the acid level in your baby’s esophagus, possible x-rays of the upper gastrointestinal tract (an upper GI series).

If you are facing reflux, you may want to know more. For feeding tips and to learn when to call your baby’s health care provider, read this article.

Infant sleep positioners – not a safe idea

Friday, October 1st, 2010

infant-sleep-positionerThe FDA published a warning this week on the suffocation risks associated with infant sleep positioners.  Sleep positioners are intended to keep a baby, usually younger than 6 months old, in a desired position.  The danger arises when the baby rolls or moves into another position.

Positioners are usually made of a flat mat with bolsters on either side and wedges to raise the baby’s head.  Some manufacturers have advertised that their product helps prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or flat head syndrome.  Although in the past the FDA has approved a few of these products to help with GERD or flat head syndrome, new information suggests that these products pose a risk of suffocation.

As a result of the new information, the FDA is requiring companies that produce the FDA-approved positioners to supply data that proves their product’s benefits outweigh the risks.  The FDA also is requesting that these companies stop marketing their positioners while the FDA reviews the data.  (Manufacturers who are making medical claims without FDA clearance must stop making their positioneers immediately.)

The FDA’s current position is that there is no scientifically sound evidence to support the medical claims of the manufacturers of infant sleep positioners.

Reflux

Friday, September 17th, 2010

burping-baby1Those of us with children have, at one time or another, been on the wrong end of some spit-up.  If you have a baby, there is just no way to avoid it.  Spitting-up is normal but some babies may suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD).

With GERD, a baby’s stomach contents, including the stomach acid, come back up out of the stomach and into the esophagus. This causes burping, heartburn and spitting up.  GERD is common in premature infants.  Some common signs of GERD include:

• Frequent spitting up or vomiting after feedings
•  “Wet burp” or “wet hiccup” sounds
• Pain, irritability or crying after feedings
• Difficulty sleeping
• Difficulty gaining weight, or weight loss

Less common symptoms include swallowing problems, gagging, hoarse voice, sore throats, and failure to eat more than a few bites of food, which may result in an infant failing to grow and gain weight as expected.

There are a few things you can do if your health care provider has diagnosed reflux to help make feedings a more pleasant experience and reduce your baby’s discomfort: 

• Feed the baby in an upright position (sitting up).
• Talk to your health care provider about thickening feedings (some have found this helpful while others notice it increases coughing fits).
• Avoid overfeeding.  Give smaller feedings, but more frequently.
• Burp your baby often.
• After feeding, help your baby to remain in an upright position for at least 30 minutes.

These suggestions can be helpful for all parents, even those whose babies spit up only occasionally and do not have GERD. 

If none of these steps help, or if your child seems underfed, is not gaining weight, or is losing weight, talk to your health care provider.  There are prescription medications that may be beneficial. And sometimes surgery may be necessary.  Rest assured however, most babies outgrow reflux after about one year.

Did your preemie or full-term baby suffer from reflux?  What worked for you?