Thursday, June 16, 2011

What is Reflux?

There is a ring of muscle or a valve at the top of the stomach which usually closes when feeding has finished. When a baby has gastric reflux this valve hasn't matured properly and doesn’t close.

The acid contents of the baby’s stomach are brought up and burn the babies oesophagus. This obviously causes the baby a lot of pain.  They will either refuse to feed because they associate milk/breast with pain or they will feed all the time trying to soothe their little throats.  As the child ages this valve slowly grows.  The more upright the baby is the more the reflux decreases. So when baby learns to sit the reflux will improve, but then when they learn to crawl it will get worse and then by the time the baby is walking reflux will often have disappeared. In some cases it will improve over a longer period of time. 

Some babies vomit up part of every feed and causes the baby discomfort/pain. This is known as Visible Reflux.

Some babies rarely vomit at all, but their feed will come part way up their oesophagus and then go back down again. This may cause pain and is known as Silent Reflux.

Despite what some Doctors may say.  Reflux is not the same thing as Colic.  The two are very very different.  Quite often babies can have both as did my Flynnie.

The Crying Over Spilt Milk website has a great comparison of the two problems.  It also has a list of symptoms.  It really is a terrific website and I highly recommend having a surf around it if you have any reflux concerns.  The above description of Reflux is actually sourced from this website.

A couple of symptoms I have found through my Paediatrician and Plunket visits that aren't on the website are firstly saliva bubbling at their mouth and also after a feed you can hear them re swallow or choking.  These two are particularly helpful clues if you have a baby with silent reflux as was our Flynnie.

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