Reflux often causes a smelly, wet stain on mum's shoulder! However, it rarely does any serious harm and usually requires no treatment.
Reflux occurs when the milk and acid from the stomach are brought up into the oesophagus (gullet) or mouth (posseting). Unlike vomiting which is forceful, reflux is effortless. It is especially common after feeds when the stomach is full.
Reflux can sometimes cause an infant to cry or be irritable. However, there are many other causes of infant distress (such as colic) and reflux is usually not the culprit. Very occasionally, reflux can cause complications, such as interference with normal growth and oesophagitis (irritation of the lining of the oesophagus).
How is reflux treated?
Children do not usually need medical treatment for reflux. Most cases settle by 12-18 months of age.
Try these strategies:
- Gentle handling and winding of the baby after feeds.
- Keep the baby propped up after feeds, with the head up at about a 300 angle.
- Thicken feeds, e.g. with cornflour.
Medications are sometimes prescribed by your doctor in more severe cases.
When to see the doctor
See your GP if your child has blood or bile (green fluid) in the vomit, is not gaining weight normally, has difficulty swallowing or has cough or chestiness associated with the reflux. If the reflux is severe or persists beyond 18 months, a checkup is also worthwhile.
There are many other causes of vomiting, such as a urinary tract infection or gastroenteritis. If your child is unwell or has a fever or if you are concerned, ask your doctor for advice.
You can also visit www.gesa.org.au/consumer for more information.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.