By Cherie B Byrne

 

Everyone seems to blog these days, blogs about fashion, celebs & parenting, right down to how to dress your dog for Christmas day!  You name it, it has been done.

Recently I have come across a lot of blogs on the subject of Reflux. Some have been very informative and encouraging however, the majority have encouraged nothing but outrage and upset amongst the reflux community.

baby on laptop

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Many have featured outdated, preconceptions coupled with ill-informed information. Although I am always delighted to see any mention of the condition on social media, I feel that these blogs have served no other purpose but to trivialise the disease and minimise the impact it can have on a family.

I can only ascertain that these blogs have been written by individuals who usually write about doggy day wear and have never experienced the suffering, pain or heartache that reflux & reflux disease can impact on a family.

I haven’t written this blog to unduly frighten or alarm any parent.  My hope is to clarify and inform the general public about what’s going on right now in thousands of homes in Ireland  and internationally. There is a growing epidemic of reflux globally, figures are rising at an alarming rate. This condition is much more than a laundry issue or merely regular baby spit up or a bad bout of colic.

It’s real, it’s here, and needs to be addressed and acknowledged by medical professionals, sooner rather than later. Reflux can no longer continue to be ignored or classed as normal baby behaviour.

What is Acid Reflux?

The entrance to the stomach attached to the oesophagus holds a muscle/valve that is called the Lower oesophageal diagram photosphincter, (LOS)

Ideally the LOS closes as soon as food passes through the oesophagus. If the LOS does not close properly, or if it opens too often, as seen in infants with an immature structure, then acid produced by the stomach can move freely up into the oesophagus/gullet.

Read more

 

So what causes reflux to happen to a baby?

There are many theories out there in regard as to what actually causes reflux in the first place.  I have heard from many mothers over the years who have tortured themselves with womb  guilt, regarding the possibility of them actually causing their babies pain!

Here are a few theories I have come across:

pregnant mam

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Foods consumed while pregnant i.e. dairy or soy based foods.

The use of antibiotics during pregnancy.

A baby receiving Antibiotics when born,  due to strep group B infection.

Caesarian section.

The position of the baby in the womb i.e. transverse or breach.

Complications during labour.

While a quick traumatic birth can sometimes attribute to  feeding issues of a baby  it wouldn’t necessarily be the cause of true reflux. Many mothers have had fantastic result’s from having chiropractic work  performed on their baby.  Quick, complicated delivery  can attribute to  spine and structural issues of the child.  The baby may need to be adjusted or corrected which can help with feeding issues.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the answer to our problem after many visits to the chiropractor things remained the same.

So the consensus is, no one really knows exactly what can  cause reflux. A lot of parents  have their own valid  beliefs  and opinions. Currently, there are no inconclusive medically researched studies that indicate precisely  why reflux can occur. If your baby has reflux there is probably nothing you could have done to  prevent this or future children from being born with the same condition.

A wider more comprehensive discussion on reflux, reflux disease, alternative therapies and remedies can found in my book: The Reflux Bible second edition

Signs of acid reflux in Infants:   

Babies who repeatedly projectile vomit are easier to diagnose with reflux, as it are obviously more visible.

Weight loss is also an indicator in some cases and it is commonly how most professionals record how the reflux is affecting the baby.

Most babies with silent reflux (SR) do not fall under this category as they do not lose the contents of their feed through projectile vomiting and the vital calories for weight gain are not lost. Not losing calories sometimes results in a slower diagnosis of the disease, as these babies are seen to be gaining weight; they are classed as “thriving.” Read more.

baby app

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Signs and indications:

Excessive hiccups.

Excessive feeding or seemingly hungry baby.

Back arching while been held.

Excessive hand chewing with ”teething like” behaviour.

Excessive drool.

Sour smelling breath.

Inconsolable crying or moaning constantly.

Impossible to settle.

Irritability during or after feeding or regurgitation and choking or blue spells.

Refusing feeds when clearly hungry.

Vomiting more than usual spit up, or projectile vomiting.

Significant wind issues.

Very poor sleeping habits.

Being placed in the car seat for journeys  caused huge issues for us, the old cliché of ‘’bring the baby for a drive to get them to settled ’’ certainly didn’t work for us or thousands of other reflux parents I have spoken to. The curved  position  of the car seat seems to create more problems for a reflux baby.

In my experience, I have found that many medical professionals feel if a baby is thriving and gaining weight there is no cause for concern. I remember the comments about my baby during this stage and how people said she was a “fine big healthy child!” I now recoil when I hear the term “thriving.”

’It’s not ok for your baby to be in pain even if they will grow out of it and never remember’’

What’s the difference between (Reflux) GOR & (Reflux disease) GORD

The following will be a crucial tool in your reflux survival kit. When I discovered this information I had a huge aha moment!  Previously to this point I just couldn’t understand why nobody seemed to take us seriously. People would pass blaze comments like ‘’Oh my little fella had reflux, it was terrible’’ but they never displayed that look of sheer terror in their eyes when they said it. They didn’t seem to possess that look that only a parent of a Gord baby displays.when I see another reflux parent

Gord parents seem to have this strange connection, they will lock eye’s with you when reflux is mentioned, combined with a pitiful empathetic look upon their face.

Then it starts, the exchange of reflux related war stories!  They can talk about this for days because you get it; you know what this is really like! It’s like being in private members club that no one willingly wants to join.

 

During our reflux journey, I learned that there are many severities of reflux, ranging from mild reflux known as ‘GOR’ (gastro-oesophageal reflux) to the more severe type known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease ‘GORD’.  There are many differences between the two.

GOR can correct itself when a baby is roughly three or four months old and can be managed by using lifestyle changes such as adding a thickener to feeds, not overfeeding, holding in the upright position for 30 minutes etc. This kind of reflux is tough going. I can still remember the constant screaming, floor walking and poor feeding, as well as a lack of any proper routine with my first child who had GOR.  Nevertheless, it rectified itself when he turned three months old.

GORD however, is a totally different ball game. The severities of the attacks are more severe and prolonged. Normal coping mechanisms and techniques of keeping the baby upright after feeds and stay down formula will not work. Medication is needed and the child can display symptoms for well over a year and in some instances, a lot longer. I really  hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but GORD  continued here for us for over two years. Some parents have children with reflux disease right up to the age of four or five and older who may still display symptoms.       GORD is an illness, disease; the child may need ongoing medical care and investigations. It can also cause a multitude of other health problems.

This information is crucial for any parent or caregiver dealing with this problem. Unfortunately, GOR and GORD get thrown into the one pot that is called “Reflux.” This is extremely frustrating for parents, as it is like comparing the common cold to pneumonia. Often parents struggle with this awful disease unsupported and misunderstood. The majority of family and friends and the wider community are completely unaware that there is a difference. I now tell people my baby has reflux disease or GORD. It saves me from hearing a lot of the preconceptions that people may have about the disease and that there is certainly a huge difference in the pain of the baby and the struggles of the parents and is certainly not just some spitting up or a laundry issue!

Food Allergies, Intolerance and Reflux

allergy boy

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Food Allergies (reaction to protein) and intolerances (reaction to a non-protein substance) will most likely go hand in hand with reflux. It is important to remember that intolerances and allergies can, and in most cases will increase the severity of reflux issues.  All too often Intolerance is overlooked and not identified when reflux is suspected. Intolerance to baby food is not isolated to formula fed babies and a mother who is breastfeeding can pass certain proteins through her breast milk when feeding.

If your baby has a suspected allergy or intolerance to breast milk, formula or solids, no amount of prescribed medication will bring reflux under control. It is only when the problem food is identified and removed that the symptoms may begin to improve.

Read more on Allergy & Intolerance

 

The Good News

happy mam

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Reflux & reflux disease will undeniably be one of the toughest struggles you may encounter as a parent. Support groups out there are the backbone and key tool in surviving the roller coaster. Although days will be tough there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully your baby will grow out of this condition and you will begin to finally enjoy your baby and those precious early years!

 

Like to learn more about reflux? Further reading on reflux related topics such as medication, baby formula and much more is discussed in greater detail within my book:  The Reflux Bible Second edition. Please pop over to my website to view a full extensive table of content within my book.

Download my app Infant Acid Reflux and explore content, watch  videos on how to give medication to your baby and visit our International chat room.

 

Android-app-store                 cover snip of the reflux bible

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