Causes & Symptoms
Infant reflux is a common problem that can affect up to 4 out of 10 babies.1 It happens when the contents of your baby’s stomach flows back up into their food pipe (oesophagus) or mouth.1
The problem is their age. The ring of muscle between the top of their stomach and their oesophagus is has not fully developed, so it’s not strong enough to keep food in the stomach, where it belongs.1 The end result is reflux, which usually starts when your baby is around 8 weeks old.1
The good news is that it is rarely a serious problem and around 60% of babies grow out of it by the time they are 18 months old as their gut develops.1,2
What are the symptoms of infant reflux?1,3
Some babies may have reflux but they don’t show any symptoms, while others could have the following signs: 1,3
- Spitting up milk or vomiting during or after feeds
- Crying a lot or crying during feeds
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough or hiccups
- Frequent ear infections
- Not putting on weight
If your baby is gaining weight, feeding well and seems to be happy, then you don’t need to worry.1
However, if your baby’s reflux starts when they are more than 6 months old or carries on beyond 1 year, then it’s best to see your doctor or public health nurse.1 Any of the following symptoms should also prompt a trip to your doctor to have your baby checked out:
- Gagging or coughing during feeds, or refusing to feed
- Regularly spitting up feeds
- Arching their back during feeds or pulling their knees up towards their tummy after a feed
- Frequently projectile vomiting or vomit that is green/yellow or contains blood
- Excessive crying or irritability
- A tender or swollen tummy
- Persistent diarrhea or blood in their stools
- Not gaining weight, or even losing weight
- A high temperature of 380C or above
Reflux during infancy is very common,1 and the good news is that there are effective treatments you can use.
Gaviscon Infant sachets are designed to prevent reflux by thickening up the contents of the stomach, making it harder to reflux.4
Each sachet contains approximately 24mg of sodium, so if your infant has been placed on a low salt (sodium) diet, speak to your doctor first before giving Gaviscon Infant.4
Do not use Gaviscon Infant with other thickening agents, or with infant milk preparations containing a thickening agent as this can make their stomach contents too thick.4 In fact, if you are thinking of changing your baby’s formula feed, as a general rule, it is best to speak to your public health nurse first for advice.1
Date of preparation: June 2021. RB-M-43766
- Health Service Executive. Reflux in babies. Accessed November 2020. https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/child-health/reflux-in-babies.html.
- Miller S. Curr Med Res Opin,1999;15:160-168.
- Bhatia J, Parish A. J Perinatology,2009;29:S7-S11.
- Gaviscon Infant, Powder for Oral Suspension Summary of Product Characteristics. Accessed June 2021. https://www.medicines.ie/medicines/gaviscon-infant-32243/patient-info