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Gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) is the effortless regurgitation of feeds/milk. GOR affects over 40% of babies in the first 6 months of life. This occurs because the junction between the oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach is not fully developed allowing feeds/milk to flow back from the stomach into the oesophagus. Most babies will only have symptoms of mild vomiting or posseting.

In more severe cases, GOR can cause troublesome symptoms such as poor growth, poor feeding, discomfort or excessive crying. These are mainly caused by heart burn as a result of gastric acid reflux. Rarely, the reflux of milk can reach the back of the throat or even spill into the lungs leading to breathing problems.

In these cases, a child may be diagnosed as having gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

A doctor can diagnose GOR or GORD after talking to you and examining your child. Special tests are not usually required but will be discussed with you if appropriate.



Simple changes to feeding that can help:

  • Keeping your child upright during and after feeds
  • Smaller, more frequent feeds
  • Trial of thickened formula can be used in bottle-fed infants

You may be referred to a feeding clinic or dietician to help you make these changes.

Medications can be used if the above measures do not improve your child’s symptoms.

  • Gaviscon (a reflux suppressant) is usually tried first.
  • Omeprazole (anti-acid medications) can be tried if Gaviscon has no effect.

In the most severe cases, an admission to the hospital may be required for further investigations. Other measures, such as tube feeding or anti-reflux surgery, can be considered if severe symptoms continue despite medication.

If your child develops any of the following, please see a doctor:

  • Blood in the vomit or stool
  • Projectile vomiting
  • A bloated stomach
  • Weight loss or reduced feeding
  • Too tired to feed
  • Fever or looks unwell

Many parents worry about reflux symptoms in their children. It is important to know that these symptoms usually resolve unaided by 1 year of age. However, if you have questions or concerns about your child, please discuss them with a doctor.

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Page last updated: 14 May 2024

Review due: 30 November 2024