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Do Babies Need Reflux Medication?

When a friend of mine had her second child, I found out what simple “spitting up” could really be. Her son spit-up like nobody’s business–it was forceful and there was A LOT of it. If you took a turn holding him, you needed to have some kind of protection on. And, if he was down on the ground (he started crawling at five months), you could easily find him by following the puddles of spit-up. He was what’s called, “a happy spitter.” He never cried, he never let it stop him–he would just up-chuck and move on. I would ask my friend, “Are you sure he doesn’t have reflux? Are you sure nothing’s the matter?” And she would always assure me that he was fine, that she asked the pediatrician, and for whatever reason, he just spit-up a bunch.

So, with this experience in mind, I find it interesting that SO MANY babies are diagnosed with reflux and are prescribed medications. I understand that there are terrible cases of babies with reflux–I’m on the reflux discussion boards and I see what some of these poor babies (and their parents) go through. But, at the same time, it seems that many of the “not so serious sounding” cases are also on meds. Turns out that Eric Hassell, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco, agrees. In a commentary he wrote for The Journal of Pediatrics, Dr. Hassell states that prescriptions for infant reflux medication to children one and under has skyrocketed. He writes, “Parents, concerned by their infant’s symptoms of apparent suffering, take their concern to doctors, who very frequently comply and prescribe acid-suppressing medications for symptoms and signs that in most cases are not GERD. GERD-mania is in full cry, so to speak.” And the scary thing? Studies by some of these reflux medicines have not been done for those younger than a year. So, you have doctors prescribing a medication to a newborn, without knowing what can happen in the long-term. Stressed out parents only want to help their child, so they comply and administer it.

In his commentary, Dr. Hassell states that it’s common for babies to spit-up–their tummies are so small, that they have a tendency to over-eat. As a result, the “overfill” comes back up and out, resulting in spit-up. However, it’s not acid that they’re spitting up, it’s mostly milk. And the fact that babies may cry inconsolably? This is totally normal too, and not necessarily a result of reflux.

When I interview mothers for our “One Mom’s Story” section, those who have babies with reflux almost always have the same answer when I ask them how they found Colic Calm–that before they gave their baby a medication, they wanted to try a natural alternative first. And for the majority of those moms, Colic Calm did the trick and soothed their baby. Using a natural solution instead of a synthetic drug? That’s something that everyone can get relief from.

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