GERD in Infants and Children - Treatments

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What treatments have been effective for your infant's or child's GERD or acid reflux?

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How are GER and GERD treated in infants and children?

It is rare for an infant with GER to generate substantial discomfort, demonstrate aversion to feeding, or show suboptimal weight gain. Conversely, toddlers and older children may experience more substantial symptoms, and thus may need a trial of lifestyle modifications including:

  • mild elevation of the head of bed,
  • serving smaller but more frequent meals,
  • monitoring your child's diet to determine whether specific foods or drinks may tend to aggravate his or her symptoms, and
  • weight reduction if indicated.

There are several groups of medications that may need to be considered in certain cases of infant GER (rare) or toddler/childhood GERD. These include:

  1. Medication to lessen gas, for example, Mylicon or Gaviscon
  2. Medication to neutralize stomach acid, for example, Mylanta or Maalox
  3. Medication to lessen stomach acid histamine blockers, for example, ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid) or cimetidine (Tagamet), and proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, for example, omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  4. Medication to promote emptying of stomach contents, for example, metoclopramide (Reglan, however, it has a number of side effects) or erythromycin (more routinely used as an antibiotic but known to have side the effect of increasing stomach contractions, but may be helpful with GERD)

The use of these medications follows a stepwise approach (from #1 to #4) based upon severity of symptoms. Consultation with a pediatric gastroenterologist may be helpful for patients whose response to the above approach is disappointing.

There are very cases where children whose GERD is so severe that a surgical procedure must be considered to manage symptoms. The procedure, called a Nissen fundoplication, involves wrapping the top part of the stomach around the lower esophagus. The displaced stomach contracts during the digestive process, and thus closes off the lower esophagus and prevents reflux. In extraordinary circumstances, a feeding tube directly into the stomach is necessary to complement the Nissen fundoplication.

Return to GERD and GER (Acid Reflux) in Infants and Children

See what others are saying

Comment from: pspalding, 7-12 Male (Caregiver) Published: November 13

My son is 11 and is taking Prilosec and it is a life saver for him. Works really great!

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