Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Infants and Children

Causes of GERD

In infants, this condition may be a result of a poorly developed gastrointestinal tract. Older children may develop GERD from a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, the same factor that causes the disease in adults.

Symptoms of GERD

Children and infants with GERD may experience symptoms that include the following:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Frequent coughing
  • Difficulty eating
  • Belching
  • Choking
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss
  • Failure to thrive
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections
  • Abdominal pain

Most infants and children will outgrow GERD by the age of one year. Some children continue to have persistent reflux and may experience symptoms and complications of GERD.

Treatment of GERD

While most children with GERD outgrow the condition in their first year, some children continue to experience symptoms. Without treatment, GERD can lead to complications. Treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms of GERD and promoting normal weight gain and growth, especially in those children who have failed to thrive. Treatment will be determined by the age of the child, the severity of the disease and the child's tolerance for treatment. Older children may require treatment which usually includes medication to decrease stomach acid. Other preventive measures should be discussed with the child's doctor.

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