HealthCentral Interviews Expert Patient, Tracy Davenport

HealthCentral talked to Tracy about managing infant acid reflux, latest research and product recommendations.

Read Tracy’s biography.

How might a parent know her baby or infant has acid reflux?

Hopefully, if a baby has reflux, an up-to-date physician will diagnose the condition based on the parent reports of signs and symptoms. Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents come up into the baby’s esophagus, and sometimes into and then out of the mouth (just think of spitting up for a common visual). This refluxing of stomach material can be a fairly common occurrence for a baby, and many times, does not create any problem for the baby or the family. It can become much more complicated though when you don’t actually “see” the refluxed material (as in silent reflux) or the reflux does not present in a typical fashion (as in frequent ear infections, multiple night awakenings, or other health issues). For parents of these babies, all they may know for sure is that their children are very uncomfortable. Again, a doctor who is experienced with acid reflux (and is a good listener) will already know the typical AND atypical signs of acid reflux in babies and be able to reach a diagnosis.

What are some ways parents can manage their child’s reflux?

The treatment for acid reflux can be as varied as the symptoms. Unlike, say, a sinus infection, the treatment of reflux can involve just as much art as science. Most parents of a baby who has been diagnosed with reflux will need to employ a variety of techniques, depending on the severity of the condition. For some, it may be as simple as feeding the baby in smaller increments and putting his crib on an incline. For others, it may mean a special formula, or even several different reflux medications. “Manage” is a great word to use here, because there is not yet a complete cure for acid reflux. Instead, the parents of babies with acid reflux usually just need to do their best to make their life and their baby’s the best it can be until things improve.

What are some myths about infant acid reflux?

I think the diagnosis of “colic” will be less and less tolerated as time goes on. When we were trying to get a diagnosis for our son, we heard the word “colic” used all too often. In fact, some very well meaning folks would say things like, “Well, if he screams for hours at the same time every day, then it is colic.” This is simply not true. Have you ever asked an adult with “heartburn” when they feel the worst? I have, and many of them will say, “just after a meal” or “at nighttime,” and yet, I have never heard them labeled “colicky.”

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