Reflux exists, but not as commonly as you may think.

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May 26, 2021
2 min read

Reflux exists, but not as commonly as most people think.

From 2000-2003 there was a 400% increase in the prescribing of anti-reflux medication, yet no reduction in the incidence of colic – which speaks volumes about the true incidence of reflux.

Reflux has become the go-to, rapid explainer of unsettled behaviour, becoming synonymous with colic.

Dismissing unsettled behaviour as reflux is problematic

This is dangerous for two simple reasons:

1. First, the medication prescribed for reflux is not without its side-effects, and

2. Second,the true cause of that baby’s unsettled behaviour is being missed.

Many parents get distressed when their baby brings up milk, but not every spill of milk is a true vomit and not all refluxed milk means your baby has reflux.

True reflux has very serious symptoms

True gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is not common and babies have very different symptoms, including weight loss, severe feeding difficulties or bloody vomit.

Why babies reflux milk

When a baby feeds, the stomach becomes over-stretched, especially if it is full of milkand wind. Any muscle in the body desires to return to its original size, and will therefore rebound back, much the way an untied balloon will deflate rapidly when released. This can often result in a column of milk rising up the oesophagus (feeding tube) and spilling out.

Silent reflux is a myth

People incorrectly refer to this spillage as reflux (myth) or even worse: silent reflux (massive myth) and it is important not to medicate a baby for reflux when it is not the cause of their unsettled behaviour. Incorrect diagnoses of reflux lead to unnecessary medications and an undesirable spiral of ‘medicalisation’ which we need to avoid.

Anti-reflux medication have risks & side effects

Anti-reflux medications have risks and very real long-term side-effects, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections as well as poor bone health.

A 2006 study led by Australian paediatricians (Heine et al, J Paed Child Health 2006) showed no link between ‘spills’ and crying time or back arching.

We also know that the two most commonly prescribed groups of medicines

  1. H2 receptor antagonists and
  2. Proton pump inhibitors

Had no effect when compared with a placebo medicine.

Please resist the urge to blame reflux for your baby’s unsettled behaviour. The treatments can be harmful and often worsen the colic.

Join the Dr Golly Sleep Program today and learn all the tips to settling an unsettled baby.

REMEMBER:As you work through the Dr Golly Sleep Program, please always remember that this does not take the place of medical advice and if in doubt, always consult your doctor.

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