What is Infant Reflux?
Reflux is the term used to describe the regurgitation of milk back into your baby's oesophagus (food pipe) or mouth after swallowing.
In many babies mild reflux is normal and can occur once or more per day after feeds for the first three months. In these cases it is a temporary problem that tends to be improved with a few simple techniques for preventing reflux. In some cases however, the reflux can be more severe and persistent despite using these feeding techniques.
What causes Reflux?
Reflux comes from the full term "Gastro-oesophageal reflux" or (GOR). Reflux may occur together with vomiting of milk, hiccups and spluttering. Both breast-fed and formula-fed babies can experience reflux. During reflux, the acidic contents of the stomach escape back up into the oesophagus. This may happen due to a number of reasons:
- There is a ring of muscle that works like a sphincter and keeps the contents of the stomach separate from the oesophagus. Because the tone of that muscular ring is still developing, this may be a cause for mild reflux in most babies.
- Up until 3-6 months, the length of baby's oesophagus is relatively short and the stomach is small, so with regular feeds milk is often regurgitated back up. As baby grows (and the oesophagus lengthens and the stomach capacity increases) the reflux generally resolves.
- In more serious cases of reflux there may be an underlying cause contributing the regurg and vomiting. The most common cause is a cow's milk allergy or intolerance. In formula-fed babies moving them onto a cow's milk-free hypoallergenic formula may help. In breast-fed babies, it is recommended that Mom's cut out cow's milk based products from their own diets as it may be affecting the baby.
Tips for preventing reflux:
- Feed baby in an upright position
- Hold baby upright for 20-30 minutes after each feed
- Try giving baby smaller, more frequent feeds
- If baby is bottle-fed burp him every 2 or 3 minutes during feeds
Reflux and Homoeopathy- when to seek help?
Homoeopathy is very effective in treating reflux. Your Homoeopath will observe your baby and prescribe remedies which will aid digestion and treat the reflux. Your baby can also be tested for milk intolerances or other underlying factors. If your baby's reflux is occurring frequently, or baby is crying and irritable after feeds or refusing feeds, you should visit your Homoeopath.
Article By: Dr Roxanna Gunter (Registered Homoeopath), Sunninghill. Tel: (011) 234-2099.
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