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

During this time, as long as the baby is gaining weight and is happy and sleeping, parents needn't be alarmed.

"However, if your baby doesn't outgrow vomiting, or if he or she has begun to associate eating and pain and is starting is develop eating disorders," Moon said, it is time to seek a pediatrician's help to see if your child is suffering from GERD.

Other possible GERD symptoms in young children include irritability, excessive crying, poor sleep patterns, coughing, sore throat or even pneumonia.

Between 50 percent and 80 percent of GERD cases are caused by the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which separates the esophagus from the stomach and stays closed, except when someone swallows or burps. No one knows exactly why this muscle loses resiliency, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach into the upper esophagus, but coughing, having a lot of food in the stomach, pressure on the abdomen when trying to ease constipation, or obesity can all be contributing factors, Moon said.

Diagnosing GERD first involves eliminating other conditions with similar symptoms, such as testing for milk or food allergies, colic or inflammation of the esophagus, and finding out if there is a family history of GERD. Further tests include screening of the esophagus and a test that measures acidity in the esophagus.

If a young child has GERD, therapy includes introducing a dairy-free diet and/or a hypoallergenic baby formula. Overfeeding can also exacerbate the condition.

In older children, pediatricians recommend modifying the diet to avoid foods that trigger GERD symptoms. These include citrus drinks, chocolate, tomato-based foods, caffeine, spicy foods and peppermint. A child should also not lie down directly after eating.

There are also medications that can help control the disease, because they inhibit the production of acids, Moon said. In rare cases, surgery that wraps the top of the sto
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