GERD in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

When patients present with dysphagia, barium esophagraphy is indicated to evaluate for possible stricture formation. In these cases, especially when associated with food impaction, eosinophilic esophagitis must be ruled out prior to attempting any mechanical dilatation of the narrowed esophageal region. As previously mentioned, children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other heritable syndromes associated with developmental delay, have an increased prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux. When these disorders are associated with motor abnormalities (particularly spastic quadriplegia), medical gastroesophageal reflux management is often particularly difficult, and suck and/or swallow dysfunction is often present. Infants with neurologic dysfunction who manifest swallowing problems at age 4-6 months may have a very high likelihood of developing a long-term feeding disorder.

This change in sphincter pressure can be brought about by a change in hormones. The hormonal impact on acid reflux can be seen in puberty, pregnancy and in menopause.

pediatric health acid reflux

When your child swallows, this muscle relaxes to let food pass from the esophagus to the stomach. This muscle normally stays closed, so the stomach contents don’t flow back into the esophagus.

Furthermore, it can discriminate between “true” non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) patients (symptomatic patients with normal endoscopy and pathological esophageal acid exposure), patients with esophageal hypersensitivity (symptomatic patients with normal endoscopy, normal esophageal acid exposure and with positive symptom-reflux association probability) and functional heartburn patients (symptomatic patients with normal endoscopy, normal esophageal acid exposure and with negative symptom-reflux association probability). The identification of these clinical entities within the “GERD spectrum” is fundamental, as it directly influences the choice of treatment. In children, since symptoms are non-specific and reported by proxy, the symptom-reflux association probability is unreliable and the distinction between NERD, esophageal hypersensitivity and functional heartburn is not recommended [11].

In some cases tube feedings may be recommended. Some babies with reflux have other conditions that make them tired. These include congenital heart disease or being born too early (premature).

Diagnosing Gastroesophageal Reflux

The other end of the tube outside your child’s body is attached to a small monitor. This records your child’s pH levels for 24 to 48 hours. During this time your child can go home and do his or her normal activities. You will need to keep a diary of any symptoms your child feels that may be linked to reflux. These include gagging or coughing.

For these reasons, in absence of “red flag” symptoms, a PPI trial for 4-6 weeks can represent a reasonable first-line pharmacological approach in older children/adolescents complaining of typical GERD symptoms, alongside with lifestyle modifications (Figure 2). Refractory patients and patients complaining of atypical GERD symptoms, on the other hand, should be referred for further investigations [11].

These medications are taken daily to prevent excess acid secretion in the stomach. Everyone has gastroesophageal reflux from time to time. If you have ever burped and had an acid taste in your mouth, you have had reflux. The lower esophageal sphincter occasionally relaxes at inopportune times, and usually, all your child will experience is a bad taste in the mouth, or a mild, momentary feeling of heartburn. GERD is often the result of conditions that affect the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

The vertical solid arrow indicates commencement of a nonacid gastroesophageal reflux episode (diagonal arrow). The vertical dashed arrow indicates the onset of a normal swallow. Barrett esophagus, a complication of GERD, greatly increases the patient’s risk of adenocarcinoma. As with esophageal stricture, the presence of Barrett esophagus indicates the need for surgical consultation and treatment (usually surgical fundoplication).

GERD and LPR in infants and children may be related to causes mentioned above, or to growth and development issues. 80.

An older child may complain of abdominal pain or describe symptoms that sound like heartburn such as pain or burning in the central chest area. If your child develops any of these symptoms, it is important to see your pediatrician. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the long-term, regular occurrence of acid reflux. This can cause heartburn and tissue damage, among other symptoms. Smoking and obesity increase a person’s risk of GERD.

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