What are the symptoms of childhood regurgitation?

Infant regurgitation is a common phenomenon in babies under one year of age. The regurgitation consists of the passage of the contents of the stomach to the pharynx or to the mouth. Unlike vomiting, regurgitation occurs without effort or nausea.

It occurs in more than 50% of babies. However, on occasion, childhood regurgitation may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease. In this article we explain what its causes and symptoms are.

Why does childhood regurgitation occur?

Child regurgitation occurs because Your digestive system is not yet fully developed. The esophagus has a valve that regulates the passage of food into the stomach. It is the lower esophageal sphincter.

In newborns, it is still immature, so the content of the stomach tends to return to the esophagus. When the baby grows, this valve develops and the regurgitations disappear naturally.

Further, Another factor that promotes regurgitation is the baby's posture. Children, before 8 months of age, spend most of the day lying down. This also favors the movement of the food towards the mouth.

The fact that the diet is almost entirely based on milk is also an important factor. When the baby begins to eat solid foods, regurgitations diminish. In the same way, the amount of food they eat influences. The more »full» the baby is, the easier it is for this phenomenon to occur.

When to worry about childhood regurgitation

Generally, regurgitations are normal at the beginning of babies' lives, as a consequence of their lack of maturation.

As we have said, child regurgitation is a physiological phenomenon in most babies. But nevertheless, It is advisable to consult the pediatrician if the baby has symptoms such as:

  • The baby does not gain weight.
  • His regurgitations are very abundant.
  • He is tired, inactive or sleepy.
  • Regurgitations occur strongly or are accompanied by blood.
  • Presents signs of dehydration. When this happens, the baby wets less diapers, has sunken eyes, dry mucous membranes, and so on.
  • If the liquid that regurgitates is green or brown.

When this happens, the baby may have gastroesophageal reflux. That is, if the regurgitations persist over time or present these symptoms, it is possible that it is something more serious.

Continuous reflux can cause the alteration of the esophageal mucosa, since the content of the stomach has an acid pH. In fact, it can lead to anemia or air complications. The baby may suffer episodes of apnea, persistent cough or recurrent bronchitis.

To diagnose reflux, complementary tests such as endoscopy, esophageal pHmetry and radiological tests are used.

What to do before regurgitations

The position and routine at the time of infant feeding affect the development of regurgitation.

Although it is almost always something normal, it can also be uncomfortable for both the child and the parents. There are some measures that can help us reduce child regurgitation. First, it is recommendable Keep the baby upright, not totally lying down.

Especially after each meal for half an hour, you can place pillows or diapers under the mattress to get the inclination. Also, avoid very active games after having fed.

Second, it is important Feed the baby calmly and prevent him from overeating. In the same way, it is recommended to burp him. Belching prevents air from accumulating in the stomach and promotes digestion.

If you are feeding your baby formula milk, it is even more important not to give too much. Formula milk is more difficult to assimilate.

When none of this helps or the baby presents the severity criteria, the doctor can recommend medications. They work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. But nevertheless, you should not give your baby medications unless the doctor tells you to. The most commonly used medications for gastroesophageal reflux are:

  • H2 blockers, that decrease the production of acid.
  • Proton-pump inhibitor, which reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

In some cases, medications do not help. Thus, there are surgical techniques reserved for it. Surgery is only performed when the baby has severe respiratory problems or an underlying anatomic cause.

In conclusion, Child regurgitation is normal. However, it is important to pay attention to the aforementioned warning signs and to see a doctor if there is any doubt.