One of the challenges of being a new mom is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you’re suddenly an expert. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to navigating a diagnosis of acid reflux in your baby. With baby acid reflux, the acid in the stomach actually creeps up in such a way that it impacts the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. This isn’t comfortable at all in adults, and because babies are mostly reclining all day, every day, it’s even worse for them.
Four and a half years ago all I knew about acid reflux in babies is that there’s little to know. My pediatrician issued a prescription of “baby Zantac” which he would take twice a day for about six months to try and minimize his symptoms.
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His biggest symptom, of course, was a massive amount of spit up. Not your normal few drops or even a small puddle or so on your clothing. I’m talking about half a bottle of liquid coming back up.
In fact, he spit up so much so often he wore a full bib nearly the entire first year of his life. Which wasn’t so cute for pictures, but at least helped me having to change his outfit 15 times a day.
He was also placed on a special Infant AR formula that was meant to thicken more in his stomach and help him digest it more slowly to minimize the creation of acid.
That’s about all I knew about it and I was happy that we had SOMETHING to do to treat his baby acid reflux.
What We Know About Treating Acid Reflux in Infants Today
A lot has changed in the past several years.
Since that tumultuous, sleepless, an exhaustingly overwhelming time I’ve found some additional resources that are meant to help parents navigate this particular challenge.
Of note is the organization, Infant Acid Reflux Solutions and you can find them here.
I recently virtually sat down with Kira, one of the managers at infant acid reflux solutions, and asked her all the burning (that’s a reflux inside joke) questions that I could think of to possibly help new moms or first time moms who are searching for answers to what they can do to help their baby who may be suffering from symptoms of acid reflux.
As a bonus if you book an appointment with Infant Acid Reflux and mention my blog The DGAF Mom, You’ll get $50 off.
The Interview with Kira from Infant Acid Reflux Solutions
What are the main symptoms that doctors look for when diagnosing acid reflux in babies?
From experience with many of the families we work with, doctors will call acid reflux colic. Which is very different.
Colic is indigestion.
Reflux is when the contents of the stomach reflux up into the throat and in some cases out of the mouth.
Reflux disease is when that occurs so much that the acid in the reflux causes pain and alters the quality of life. Like failure to thrive for instance.
What are some unknown symptoms of Acid reflux that parents may not miss? (For example, for me, my son had red tinted skin around his eyes that I thought were from allergies but I later learned was a sign of reflux).
That is exactly right. Flushing or blotchy redness can be a symptom of reflux caused by histamine release. This is due to the irritation and inflammation from the acid coming into contact with mucous membranes of the upper airways, sinus, mouth, and throat.
There are many signs that parents may not associate with reflux.
Such as back arching, also confused with seizures. Back arching is a reaction to the pain and is called Sandifer's Syndrome.
Constant cold or coughing, recurring ear, nose and throat infections.
The best thing to do is to go to our infant acid reflux questionnaire. This questionnaire was created by doctors at the University of Missouri while they did a 12-year study called MarciKids (Midwestern Acid Reflux Children's Institute Kids) The study was centered around treating babies with reflux.
This questionnaire and the response we give them will help them recognize the symptoms pointing to reflux.
What differentiates you and your services from a regular pediatrician?
We specialize in baby reflux. That is all we do. So in many cases, families will go to their doctors and they are being told the reflux is either colic or that it is reflux but not to worry the baby will outgrow it in a year or so and to wait it out.
We are different because we believe in treating the reflux with very safe medications for the short time the reflux is present.
Usually about a year to 18 months. So the child and the family can have a pain free, healthy and happy first year of life.
How are you able to evaluate a baby without meeting with them in person?
Telemedicine is a fantastic option for families that can’t fly to specialty doctors (something that many families did for the MarciKids study) and don’t have knowledgeable doctors near them.
Because telemedicine is a face to face in a video appointment online, it is considered a doctors visit. So a treatment plan and medicines can be provided.
What are your medical qualifications to diagnose and treat a baby’s acid reflux?
I am not a doctor nor am I a medical practitioner. However, I work with two amazing care providers. Jeffrey Phillips Pharm D who is the lead in the MarciKids study invented TummyCare Max which is a treatment product created for baby’s with reflux during the MarciKids study and is one of the primary features of successful treatment.
He also invented Zegerid which is a product to treat adults with acid reflux. He has been working with babies with reflux for over 20 years.
And Dr. Jennifer Prince who has been specializing with infants suffering from acid reflux and failure to thrive for over 10 years. You won’t find a more qualified team.
I am more the facilitator to both doctors.
What’s the difference between Acid Reflux and GERD and how are they treated differently (If they are?)
Acid reflux is when the reflux is sporadic.
It only becomes GERD or acid reflux disease when it causes pain and alters the quality of life. In fact, the definition of GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) is when the symptoms of acid reflux are significant enough and for a long enough time period (such as several weeks) to create effects on quality of life and/or pain. (Many babies spit up - that is reflux. GERD is different).
If the pain isn’t present but still affecting the quality of the babies life, there may be a presence of silent reflux disease.
How much does your consultation typically cost and do you accept insurance?
Our initial consult is $195 for 20 minutes of one on one with our specialty doctors. Most doctors spend less than 6 mins with their patients.
It is pre-paid but we work with you to get reimbursed from your insurance if your coverage permits. The good news is more insurance policies are jumping on the telemedicine technology and reimbursement is becoming much easier.
Take me through the consultation process after I’ve submitted a questionnaire. How quickly will I receive a response, and from whom? What happens next.
We respond to every questionnaire within 24 hours with a response that is specific to your child. If you decide to proceed with an appointment we can normally get you in front of the doctor within 1-3 days. No waiting 4 to 6 weeks to get help for your baby.
Do you collaborate with a patient’s pediatrician to verify a diagnosis or are you independently assessing the possibility of the reflux?
We welcome you to introduce our treatment policies to your doctors and we will gladly get on the phone with them to show them the medical literature supporting what we do. We want to help as many babies as possible and we believe that if we can get your doctors on board they will help other babies in their office as well.
Is acid reflux something that can be cured? If so how?
Acid reflux in babies is very, very treatable and because most babies outgrow it within the first 18 months of their lives, we control the acid that is causing the baby pain. So it is curable as the baby outgrows the reflux.
Are there any common misunderstandings or rumors about acid reflux that you’d like to dispel?
Yes. It isn’t something you, your family and mostly your baby have to suffer through. I can’t tell you how many times I hear moms coming to me saying their doctors feel they are overreacting mamas and to calm down. You shouldn’t have to watch your baby suffer in pain for that long. You deserve to have a happy, smiling and healthy baby.
Are there any food triggers in breast milk that can increase the odds of your child having an acid reaction?
There are so many causes of reflux. An underdeveloped esophageal sphincter muscle, food allergies, premmies are pretty susceptible as well. Diet certainly can be a factor for both mom and baby if they are breastfeeding.
We definitely plan to bring in a nutritionist as we grow to help families navigate diet for reflux babies.
Is there any way to predict if your baby will have acid reflux? Is it genetic (I.e. if dad has it as an adult could your baby be born with it?)
Genetics can contribute to the likelihood but not a consistent factor.
Is heartburn during pregnancy any indication of acid reflux?
Not for the baby. Mamas get acid reflux because as their bellies grow it puts pressure on their stomach and that can cause reflux.
If one child is diagnosed with AR or GERD what are the odds that any siblings will also have it when they’re born? I hate to say this but the likelihood of your other babies having reflux if your first had it is pretty good.
What happens if you ignore the symptoms and don’t treat a baby's reflux?
The long term symptoms of untreated reflux far outweigh any concerns about giving your baby medications and believe me we get it! Nobody wants to give their baby medicine. But long term symptoms can be as serious as choking, gagging, breath interruptions, failure to thrive, hiatal hernias. The choice is always up the parents and we support any decision you have as a mom. But we do want you to make educated decisions. We give you the information and then you decide how and if to treat your baby.
What happens if a treatment doesn’t work? What steps do you take to help give a baby relief?
I can say this. If the family or parent follows the guidelines of MarciKids, uses TummyCare Max and follows the instructions of our doctors, their baby will get better. We have 20 years of treatment history behind us and I’m very confident in that statement.
If you’re interested in getting a consultation with Infant Acid Reflux Solutions, be sure to mention that you read this blog post at The DGAF MOM and receive $50 off your first appointment.
Infant Acid reflux Solutions: http://www.infant-acid-reflux-solutions.com