Delayed Diagnosis?

Jan Gambino Health Guide

    It can take some time for your baby to be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. (GERD). It can feel very frustrating from a parent’s point of view. We moms and dads often have a gut instinct that something is wrong way before anyone else. We might try explaining our concerns to the doctor and hear that all babies cry and spit up. It is certainly true that spit up and crying are part of the package deal you sign on to when you have a baby. However, parents often sense that there is more to the crying and our babies are conveying a message that something is wrong.


    It may be necessary to go back and forth to the doctor several times. Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease often looks like a more common and less serious condition called Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) in the early stages. GER may cause spit up and extra crying and lead to just as much worrying and concern as GERD. While GERD requires special home care and medical treatment, a baby with GER does not need medication.

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    At first, it appeared that my baby had GER. She even had an upper GI test and it showed mild reflux. The doctor said it was common to have mild GER and it wasn’t anything to worry about. Over time, her symptoms worsened and she had serious respiratory complications. Later, she was diagnosed with GERD. It did take a long time to get a diagnosis of GERD and it was frustrating to me that her symptoms were getting worse and worse as I was taking her to the doctor more and more. Neither the doctor nor I knew why she wasn’t responding to the normal treatments. At one point, the doctor even asked me if I was giving her the medications and treatments that were prescribed. I was a bit insulted by his statement because I was doing EVERYTHING the doctor said to do.


    Some babies are outwardly sick and others just keep going despite the pain. My reflux baby was often happy and playful. She didn’t have the typical symptoms of non-stop fussiness and crying. This made it even harder for the doctors to understand the extent of her distress. So if your baby cries non-stop, you may be told that this is normal crying or it is colic. If your baby acts well but it struggling in other ways, the symptoms may be dismissed too. Frustrating isn’t it?!


    Unlike adults, babies and toddlers can't talk and tell us where it hurts and how bad it feels. This can make it difficult for the doctors because they depend on their patient’s report of symptoms to learn important clues about the symptoms and diagnosis. If moms and dads complain, cry, become emotional or upset, our message may not be heard either.


    What should you do?


    ·      Remember that you are an expert on your child.

    ·      Get organized before a doctor’s visit: get all records, notes, feeding journals and symptoms charts ready to present to the doctor.

    ·      Stay calm.

    ·      Speak clearly.

    ·      Stay on the topic.

    ·      Bring a list of questions.

    ·      Don’t be discouraged-this may take some time and effort.

  • ·      Bring a friend, relative or your spouse.

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    ·      Take a picture or bring a video clip of the symptoms if needed.


    I must say that I was very relieved when my daughter was finally diagnosed with GERD. I knew something was wrong and it was frustrating that her symptoms were getting worse and worse. I did feel a bit smug too-I knew there was something wrong and trusted my mommy instincts.

Published On: March 20, 2011