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Spitting Up - Reflux

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • Spitting up (reflux) of 1 or 2 mouthfuls of breastmilk or formula
  • No effort or crying
  • Mainly occurs in young babies

Symptoms

  • Smaller amounts often occur with burping ("wet burps")
  • Larger amounts can occur after overfeeding
  • Most often seen during or shortly after feedings
  • Occurs mainly in children under 1 year of age
  • Begins in the first weeks of life
  • Caution: Normal reflux does not cause any crying

Complications

These problems occur in less than 1% of infants:

  • Choking on spit up milk
  • Heartburn from acid on lower esophagus. Infants with this condition cry numerous times per day. They also act very unhappy when they are not crying. They are in almost constant discomfort.
  • Poor weight gain

Cause

  • Poor closure of the valve at the upper end of the stomach
  • Main trigger: overfeeding of formula or breastmilk
  • More than half of all infants have occasional spitting up ("happy spitters")

Reflux Versus Vomiting: How to Tell

  • During the first month of life, newborns with true vomiting need to be seen quickly. The causes of vomiting in this age group can be serious. Therefore, it's important to tell the difference between reflux and true vomiting.

Reflux. The following suggests reflux (normal spitting up):

  • You've been told by a doctor your baby has reflux
  • Onset early in life (85% by 7 days of life)
  • Present for several days or weeks
  • No pain or crying during reflux
  • No effort with spitting up
  • No diarrhea
  • Your baby acts hungry, looks well and acts happy.

Vomiting. The following suggests vomiting:

  • Uncomfortable during vomiting
  • New symptom starting today or yesterday
  • Forceful vomiting
  • Contains bile (green color)
  • Diarrhea is also present OR
  • Your baby looks or acts sick.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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