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Pediatric GERD

Gastroesophogal reflux disease (GERD) is a medical condition that is common in people of all ages, even babies and children.

Gastroesophogal reflux occurs when stomach contents reflux, or back up, into the esophagus during or after a meal.  Dr. Terry Hatch, professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says gastroesophogal reflux begins in infancy when most infants spit up after feeding.

“... in our premature intensive care unit, feeding difficulties associated with reflux are significant problems, but they occur throughout infancy, childhood and certainly through the teen years.  And reflux with complications such as esophagitis and complications from chronic inflammation are increasingly common in the adult population as well.”

Dr. Hatch says when reflux occurs frequently and is severe, it can develop into gastroesophogal reflux disease or GERD.  In children, GERD can cause troublesome symptoms or complications such as failure to gain weight, bleeding, respiratory problems or tummy aches.  He describes some GERD symptoms in children.

“... heartburn and swallowing difficulties are quite common.  Simply regurgitation – burp up, belch up, re-swallowing material, sour taste in the throat.  Even some forms of bad breath are related to reflux.”

Dr. Hatch says infants and children with GERD can be helped first with feeding and lifestyle changes or possibly medication.  If symptoms are severe or persist parents should contact their primary care physician or pediatrician. 

Ruth Slottag