Six Reasons Not to Overlook Reflux in Your Child
Once felt to be a non-issue, childhood acid reflux is getting attention as a real problem. Here's why you shouldn't turn a blind eye to your child's symptoms:
1. Your child can't speak for herself. You as a parent are the front line in identifying the subtle signs of acid reflux in your child. And as your child's only advocate it is up to you to see to it that your child gets the care she deserves.
2. Acid reflux can create problems beyond heartburn. Asthma, feeding aversion, recurrent ear infections, sleep disturbance, and dental damage are a few of the problems created by unchecked acid reflux in children. Early identification and treatment can prevent many of these complications.
3. You may not expect it. If you're like many parents you may not believe that acid reflux can be a problem for children. Keeping your eyes, ears and mind open to the idea of reflux is often the first step in getting your child the care she deserves.
4. Your doctor may not expect it. A recent study presented at this year's annual meeting of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastronterology, Hepatology and Nutrition found that one third of parents reported visiting three doctors before receiving a correct diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux in their child. Having a doctor with eyes, ears and mind open to the idea of reflux is often the second step in getting your child the care she deserves.
5. It's treatable. The last twenty years have brought advancement in the treatment of reflux in kids. We have new medications and new ways to deliver those medications. Absence of options, fear of side effects or difficulty dosing children are becoming 20th century excuses.
6. Children aren't little adults. What applies to you and your heartburn will likely not apply to your 18-month-old. As pediatric gastroenterologists, we are trained to identify and treat the unique presentations of GERD during infancy, toddlerhood, school aged years and adolescents. And children with reflux at these stages of development are all unique. If you suspect reflux in your child, talk to your pediatrician. If they're not comfortable diagnosing or treating GERD, look for help from a qualified specialist. The complications and considerations of acid reflux in children are unique. Remember that only pediatric gastroenterologists are trained to deal with the complications of GERD in kids - never trust your child to an adult specialist.
In reflux, as with so many problems in kids, you are your child's best advocate.