Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children
(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease [GERD])
"Gastro-" means stomach, the esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach, and reflux means flowing backward.
Gastroesophageal reflux, also called acid reflux, is when:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when acid reflux causes problems with feeding or breathing, or damages the esophagus. GERD is also common in adults.
Stomach acid can irritate and sometimes damage the esophagus
Sometimes stomach acid gets in your child's throat and down the windpipe
Nearly all babies have reflux and spit up sometimes
Babies with GERD may throw up, have problems eating or breathing, or be cranky
Children may have chest or abdominal pain, or heartburn
Doctors make changes to your child's diet and how you feed them, and prescribe acid-blocking medicine
Most babies outgrow reflux by about 18 months
A ring of muscle keeps the end of the esophagus closed. GERD happens when that muscle doesn't completely close off the esophagus and lets stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus.
Reflux is more likely when children:
Symptoms of reflux usually start shortly after birth and are worst around 6 or 7 months of age. Then symptoms slowly go away and are usually gone by about 18 months.
In babies, the most common symptoms are:
If babies throw up a lot, they may not gain weight like they should. If acid gets in their throat and windpipe, babies may cough and wheeze.
In children, the most common symptoms are:
In adolescents, the most common symptom is:
Treatment of GERD depends on your child’s age and symptoms.
For a baby, doctors may have you:
For an older child, doctors will have your child:
All children should be kept away from caffeine and cigarette smoke.