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GORD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease)

Acid Reflux in babies and children

Reflux is very common condition in babies and young children and most will outgrow it by the time they are 18 months. Some children require treatment if it becomes persistent and have frequent reoccurring symptoms.

It happens with partly digested food and drink travels up the food-pipe that runs from the mouth to the stomach (the oesophagus) and is often mixed with acidic stomach juices which can irritate the lining of it, making it inflamed and sore.

There is a muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus, which usually stops food and drink from travelling back up, but whilst a baby’s digestive system is still developing it may not always work properly.

The most obvious symptom is frequent regurgitation or vomiting, especially after meals, which usually isn’t a problem, unless they are bringing up a large amount of food with most feeds.

Other symptoms include stomach pain, failure to thrive and put on weight – All of which should be checked by a doctor. If your baby has stomach or oesophagus pain, symptoms include irritability or inconsolable crying, or arching their back a lot. Also, consult your doctor should child bring up vomit that looks like coffee grounds. This can be a sign that their stomach or oesophagus is bleeding.

Older children tend to have different reflux symptoms such as heartburn, trouble swallowing, and a bad-tasting, watery fluid coming into the mouth. There are lots of reasons for these symptoms and your doctor can check for reflux by examining your child and investigating the symptoms. It also helps if you keep a food diary detailing what foods and how much your child takes as well as how often they bring up food. Regular weight reviews of your child at the clinic are also advisable to check to see they are gaining weight.

It is very rare for reflux to lead to complications, but some children can have problems, which will require further investigations and treatment, these include:

  • Bleeding
  • A painful oesophagus
  • Breathing problems, such as coughing and wheezing
  • Failure to grow and develop at the usual rate for their age

Key Information on:

Dr Jack Singer - London Paediatrician

The Portland HospitalBUPA Cromwell HospitalKing Edward VII's HospitalSevenoaks Medical Centre - A London Bridge HospitalParkside HospitalHarley Street Paediatric GroupHCA Healthcare UK at The Shard