Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dealing with Your Baby's GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

I’m pretty sure all babies spit up!  However, when I had my second child, he spit up excessively.   I could never lay him down flat on his back.  Sometimes after feeding, he would cry for hours, as if he were in pain.

I knew something was wrong!  M was a late pre-term baby and, as a newborn, had a stay in the NICU so my mommy instincts were already heightened.

When M was almost five months old, he spit up some blood (not bright red blood, but a brown ‘coffee grounds-like” substance).   At that point, we got a referral to see Pediatric Gastroenterologist to investigate the situation further.  

To get a look inside, my son’s doctor performed an upper endoscopy, which involves using a narrow “scope with a light and camera at its look inside the upper digestive tract”. Since my son was just a baby, he didn’t have to be sedated.  He cried, but mostly because I think he didn’t like strangers holding him.  The staff swaddled him, so he wouldn’t squirm. Luckily, the procedure only took a few minutes and soon, he was back in my arms.

After the procedure, it was confirmed he had GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), which is basically severe acid reflux.  We were told many babies outgrew this before their first birthday. In fact, only 5% of babies have symptoms as toddlers.  At this point, M was 5 months old so we were hopeful.   

WebMD lists some of the main symptoms of GERD:
My son was started on acid reflux medication. In addition, since I was nursing him, I had to avoid dairy, acidic foods, carbonation, caffeine, and fatty, fried, or spicy dishes….pretty much anything fun. Actually, this “GERD” diet was probably good for both of us.  When M started eating solids, I followed this same diet for him. 

Another big thing that helped was keeping M upright, at least two hours after eating.  Since he still had two naps and liked to eat, this was sometimes hard. So what ended up happened was me holding him a lot of the times when he napped. At night, I elevated his crib so it was at an angle.   

As his first birthday approached, things were going pretty well.  M was spitting up less, sleeping better, and gaining more weight.  Unfortunately, the day after Christmas, M threw up quite a bit of blood. Again, it was brownish blood...not bright red….otherwise I probably would have freaked out. We were in San Diego visiting family for the holidays and we decided to take him to the ER to make sure everything was okay.

Despite the blood incident, M was actually doing much better.  And, when we took him to get a second endoscopy, everything looked normal. 

Until he was about two and a half, M still had to remain on medication and we were very careful about what he ate.  Now, at three and a half, he occasionally enjoys some ice cream and is a very healthy boy.  

Did your child experience GERD or reflux as a baby, or as an older child?  Tell me about it in the comments.

*This post is not intended to be substituted for professional advice.  If you think your child has GERD, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.  

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