When a Disease Causes Baby's Colic
Easing Baby Bellies
Treatment, and Time
If a baby's colic symptoms appear to be caused by GERD, your pediatrician may prescribe Zantac or similar medications, such as Tagamet (cimetidine). These drugs, available by prescription in an infant-strength liquid, block the production of the irritating stomach acids that may be regurgitated into the esophagus, thus relieving baby's heartburn-like symptoms.
"In the vast majority of infants, GERD is a benign condition that resolves spontaneously without medication," says Robert Squires, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on gastroenterology and nutrition.
But histamine blockers, like Zantac and Tagamet, or another class of drugs designed to improve intestinal motility, such as Reglan (metoclopramide), may be helpful, particularly if a child is vomiting blood, has recurrent asthma or pneumonia, or isn't gaining weight properly, says Squires. He discourages the use of antacids like Mylanta or Maalox, which contain aluminum that may be absorbed by bone if used for months or years.
Which medication is most effective depends on the child. Gabriel's symptoms improved temporarily from Zantac but when they returned two weeks later, his pediatrician switched him to Tagamet, which is more effective, says his mother. An advantage to Tagamet, says Manners, is that it kicked in after two days, as opposed to the five days it took to see the effects of Zantac.
Besides doctor-prescribed medications, Sears suggests other remedies for quelling GERD:
- Prop your baby at a 30-degree angle for 30 minutes after feeding and while sleeping. A special sling manufactured by Tucker Designs in Kenner, La., will hold baby while he lies prone on a propped-up crib mattress.
- Offer smaller, more frequent feedings.
- Wear your baby in a sling as much as possible to decrease crying. Babies reflux more while crying.
Breast-feed. Studies show that GERD is less common among breast-fed babies.