So let’s say there is a little baby with Gastroesophageal reflux. She is sweet and beautiful but every time she drinks her bottle, she cries and turns away. As soon as the bottle goes away, she smiles and grabs her toys or her mom’s glasses.
Baby’s Point of View:
“I don’t like to drink my bottle.”
“It tastes yucky and makes me feel gassy and uncomfortable. Even burping feels bad.”
“Why does mommy keep bring out the bottle over and over? I keep trying to tell her that I don’t like it!”
Mom’s Point of View
“Grandma and the pediatrician told me ALL babies like formula.”
“I must be doing something wrong.”
“Maybe I am a bad mother.”
“Maybe she is manipulating me and I need to teacher her to behave.”
“I think there is something wrong with my baby.”
Doctor’s Point of View
“This baby looks great! Her exam is normal, she is alert and her weight is average.”
“ I think this mother needs reassurance that her baby is ok.”
“It is just reflux. Nothing serious.”
There may be a communication failure when a parent brings her baby with reflux to the doctor for assistance with worrisome digestive symptoms. While GER isn’t as serious as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, it may cause significant discomfort to the baby. However, the doctor may convey a message that the symptoms are not problematic because they are not causing more serious complications that are associated with GERD such as breathing issues and failure to thrive. At the same time, modern medicine just doesn’t give the typical doctor time to explain in detail the home care treatments that work to reduce symptoms of GER and offer follow up guidance to parents when their babies are distressed. Parents (and especially mother’s like me) worry that it is the worst case scenario and there is a more serious underlying cause for the symptoms. Further, parents get confusing and conflicting advice from many sources such as family, friends, medical professionals and the internet.
Recently, I attended a GI conference and there was a great deal of discussion about functional gastrointestinal disorders. It turns out that Gastroesophageal Reflux or GER is considered a functional disorder. It doesn’t sound correct. What could be “functional” about spit up and crying? The discussion really helped me understand what the doctors are talking about. Maybe your baby will stick with crying and fussing to communicate but what if you and the doctor were able to talk about GER in a whole new way?
Next Time: Is Reflux Really “Functional”?
Published On: November 16, 2010