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    GERD and Acid Reflux in Infants and Children

    What Are the Treatments for Acid Reflux in Infants and Children?

    You can try a few lifestyle changes to help a child with acid reflux:

    For infants:

    • Raise the head of the baby's crib or bassinet
    • Hold him upright for 30 minutes after a feeding
    • Thicken his bottle feedings with cereal (ask your doctor before you try this)
    • Change his feeding schedule
    • Try giving him solid food (with your doctor's OK)

    For an older child:

    • Raise the head of his bed
    • Keep him upright for at least 2 hours after he eats
    • Serve him several small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones
    • Limit any foods and drinks that seem to make his reflux worse
    • Encourage him to get regular exercise

    If the reflux is severe or doesn't get better, your doctor may recommend medication to treat it. Medicines to help with gas include:

    • Simethicone
    • Calcium carbonate antacid

    He might also prescribe a medicine to help your child’s stomach make less acid. But researchers aren't sure whether these drugs ease reflux in infants.

    For the most part, antacids and gas-fighting drugs are safe. At high doses, antacids can cause some side effects, such as diarrhea. If your child takes high doses of them for a long time, he might have a higher risk of thinning bones, called rickets, or vitamin B12 deficiency.

    Surgery for Reflux in Children

    Most children don’t need surgery to treat reflux. But it can help those who’ve tried other treatment that hasn’t worked or kids who have breathing problems, pneumonia, or other serious problems from GERD.

    In the most common type of surgery, a surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the esophagus, forming a cuff that closes off the esophagus whenever the stomach squeezes -- preventing reflux.

    Like any operation, there are some risks to this surgery. Talk about them with your child's doctor. She can help you decide if it’s the right treatment for your child.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 05, 2016
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