Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease In Children

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There can be various factors affecting the esophagus such as gastric reflux, bleeding of the varicose blood vessels, cancer, tears, constrictions, and motility disorders which can cause difficulty and pain in swallowing or chest pain. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux is one of the disorders of the esophagus in which stomach contents come up back into the esophagus. It occurs because of the incomplete or poor closure of esophageal sphincter located at the junction between the stomach and the lower esophagus. Symptoms caused by GERD include:

  • Acid-like taste in the back of the mouth and bad breath
  • Heartburn and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Wearing away of theteeth

GERD in infants and children

Spitting up of milk without causing any other distress to the infant is called gastroesophageal reflux or GER. GERD is more severe and long-term and can sometimes be asymptomatic and difficult to detect in infants and children as their communication abilities are not developed. So observation is the only way to identify its existence. The most common symptoms are effortless spitting up of milk or food and repeated vomiting causing discomfort to the infant. Other manifestations are a cough, wheezing, bad breath, inconsolable crying for feeding but refusing to feed and again crying to feed.  Some infants may become underweight and show unpleasant face after feed and burp.

Underlying reasons for GERD in children

The reason for GERD in infants is the undeveloped digestive system at birth, primarily caused by the increasing early births now. The infants might be having poor coordination of the processes in the alimentary canal or issues with nervous system and muscles. The symptoms disappear between the age of six months and one year in most of the infants. However, the disorder continues to be present in some children even after one year, particularly when there is a family history of GERD.