Can a food allergy cause acid reflux?

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide June 20, 2007
  • Food allergies are increasing worldwide for reasons that are not completely clear. Recent studies suggest that nearly 4 percent of adult Americans are afflicted with food allergies.This number is even higher for children. In both adults and children, food allergies may cause gastroesophageal reflux.

    The food allergy and acid reflux link has been made clear in several studies. One such study was reviewed in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1999. Researchers consulted mothers whose infants had colic-type behavior that included vomiting. Some of the babies in the study failed to respond to reflux medication and multiple formula changes. However, the gastroesophageal reflux symptoms resolved when the infants changed formula and were given an elemental amino acid-based formula. In two-thirds of the patients in the study, the reflux symptoms returned when the babies were put back on a soy formula or hydrolyzed formula. The researchers attributed food protein intolerance to the infants’ acid reflux symptoms.

    Tremendous progress has been made in the understanding of food allergies over the past several years. If your reflux symptoms are difficult to control, talk to your doctor about the possibility that your reflux is a symptom of food allergies. The following two Web sites are available to help you learn more:

    Act Against Allergy is a global educational initiative designed to increase awareness of childhood food allergy, with a focus on dairy allergy.

    Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network exists to raise public awareness, to provide advocacy and education, and to advance research on behalf of those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.


    Want to learn about GERD foods? Read here.

    Read expert Jennifer Rackley's post on Food Allergy, Acid Reflux, and Intolerance.