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GERD Not Limited to Grownups
Date:8/25/2007

Babies and children can also suffer from severe gastric distress, experts say,,,,

FRIDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- GERD can strike even the youngest person. Just ask Priscilla Dunstan.

When her newborn son screamed all day and night, relaxing only when she carried him upright in her arms, his doctor told her he had colic, a common condition among infants that tends to disappear by the age of 18 months.

But her baby didn't get better, because, as it turned out, he suffered from a more serious gastric condition which often plagues adults, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

"He kept on crying going into the four-month period. He was screaming all the time," said Dunstan, who lives in Balmain, Australia, a suburb of Sydney.

Colic is a normal physiologic process that can occur throughout the day in healthy infants and children. Most episodes are brief and are typically confined to the lower esophagus, explained Dr. Aeri Moon, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

However, colic can worsen and become GERD when the stomach's contents move into the upper esophagus. While its prevalence has been noted among adults in recent years, GERD is frequently overlooked in youngsters, despite the fact that it affects as many as 7 million children, according to the Pediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.

"GERD is a serious problem. It's a big deal," said Moon, who treats children with the disease.

Moon and Dunstan spoke recently in New York City at the launch of the Voices of GERD program, in an effort to bring attention to the problem of pediatric GERD.

Almost half of babies under 3 months of age will have GERD-like symptoms, which include spitting up and gas. Often the condition can be confused with colic, Moon said, but these symptoms usually subside between the ages of 15 months and 18 months.
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