All babies spit up or throw up now and then. But some do so more often than usual. This is called reflux. Reflux is short for gastroesophageal reflux or GER. Reflux is common among premature babies, but full-term babies can have it, too. The good news is that most babies outgrow it after a few months. Only 1 percent of babies are still spitting up after their first birthday.
Here’s what happens with reflux. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach. Once the food is in the stomach, some of it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth all over Junior and often you, too.
Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally while Mom and Dad worry if their child is getting enough to eat. But for a few babies, reflux is more serious and the baby needs medication to make sure reflux is not dangerous and that he is growing well. In rare cases, surgery to tighten the muscle that regulates the flow of food into (and back out of) the stomach needs to be tightened. This procedure is called a fundoplication. The University of California, San Francisco has a good article about pediatric fundoplication at this link.
If your baby is otherwise healthy and putting on weight, the doc probably will take a wait and see stance. In time, your little one should outgrow this messy condition. But if your baby’s doctor feels there is a possibility of a more serious condition, she may recommend a few tests. Tests can include blood and urine tests, an analysis of the acid level in your baby’s esophagus, possible x-rays of the upper gastrointestinal tract (an upper GI series).
If you are facing reflux, you may want to know more. For feeding tips and to learn when to call your baby’s health care provider, read this article.