Doctors and Parents: Different Points of View on Reflux?

Jan Gambino Health Guide

    Most of the time, I hear the parents side of what it is like to have a baby with gastroesophageal reflux.


    Parents often tell me:


    ·      Feeding a baby with reflux is very challenging.

    ·      Babies with reflux have a difficult time going to sleep and staying asleep.

    ·      Caring for a baby with reflux can lead to feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and worry.

    ·      No one understands what it is really like to care for a baby with reflux.

    ·      It can take many visits to the doctor and many different treatments before finding a treatment that reduces symptoms.

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    ·      There is a lot of conflicting advice from friends, grandparents, the internet and doctors.

    ·      Sometimes the reflux treatments just don’t work.


    Recently, I attended two medical conferences and so I have gotten an earful about the doctor’s side of treating reflux.


    Doctors tell me:


    ·      Medications for reflux are being over prescribed for infants and children.

    ·      Not all crying and fussing is caused by infant reflux.

    ·   There is a great deal of misinformation on the internet about infant reflux and treatments.

    · Much more research is needed on the causes, tests and treatments for gastroesophageal reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

    ·      They are concerned about using strong reflux medications for very young infants.


    Parents of infants and children with reflux are immersed in the day to day struggles of caretaking while the doctor is focused on finding a safe and effective treatment approach. I know that both parents and doctors have the same goal: helping an infant in pain and distress to feel better. But somehow parents and doctors don’t always agree on what to do.


    Most of us will start our search for answers by consulting our favorite internet search engine for any symptom from a hang nail to a heart attack, before calling the doctor. We might have developed some opinions from this research and “want to check it out” with the doctor. Sometimes what we have read on the internet is different than the advice we receive from the doctor, leading to more confusion.


    When I get on the web to find medical information, I often seek out research and treatment guidelines such as the NASPGHAN (North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition) Guidelines on the treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux. I am a big believer in “evidence based” medicine. This means that research has shown a positive effect from a particular approach. I look for large studies (with a lot of study participants), and studies that have looked at results from multiple sites (called multi center studies). The NASPGHAN guidelines were developed from reviewing many, many studies and looking for trends that were significant.


    I think it is important for doctors and parents to work together and communicate effectively for the best outcome. This means parents need to describe symptoms effectively by bringing in a symptom log and feeding record and an organized list of questions and concerns. Doctors need to listen to parent’s questions and concerns and help parents sort out the mountain of information that is available about acid reflux from multiple sources. Parents need to listen to the doctor’s wealth of training, experience and knowledge of evidence based GERD treatment guidelines from NASPGAN. When parents and doctors develop a partnership, the best plan of action will result.


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    So what has been your experience? Have you and your child's doctor discussed your different points of view on infant reflux? Is your doctor aware of the new GERD treatment guidelines?



Published On: November 16, 2009