What are the causes of reflux?

ColicCalm, NZ

The Cause and Treatment of Infant Reflux

Is it normal gastric reflux (GER) or the rarer, more serious condition GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)? What is the difference between GER and GERD?

by J.J. Courtiol, M.A. Ed.

The Cause and Treatment of Infant Reflux 

GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux, a.k.a.“reflux”) is simply defined as the backward flow of stomach contents into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). GER is a normal, common process that occurs time to time in almost everyone, of all ages, particularly after meals. It usually involves regurgitation. Almost all babies will regurgitate or “spit up” after some feedings, whether they are breast or bottle-fed. The prevalence of GER peaks between 1 to 4 months of age1, and usually resolves by 6 to 12 months.2 Regurgitation, or “spitting up” has been reported in up to two thirds (65%) of healthy infants,3 but decreases to 1% by one year of age. Babies with GER regurgitate without secondary signs or symptoms of inadequate weight gain, esophagitis, or respiratory disease. Infants with GER are thriving and represent the majority who present to the physician with this condition.

In contrast, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a less common, more serious pathologic process that usually necessitates medical management and diagnostic evaluation. It is also referred to as “Pathogenic GER”. Approximately 1 in 300 infants will present signs and symptoms of GERD and it is more common in children with neurological impairments.4 Patients with GERD may manifest persistent regurgitation with typical complications such as inadequate growth, failure to thrive, feeding and oral aversions, esophagitis,etc. or atypical complications such as wheezing, pneumonia, chronic sinusitis, etc.5

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