Many people are not aware that a Speech Pathologist may be able to help when their baby or toddler is difficult to feed, having
difficulties chewing, food refusing or is a fussy eater. Often babies or toddlers with reflux will have difficulties related to eating. Very early on, babies with reflux associate eating with pain and discomfort and begin to fuss or even completely refuse feeds.
Many families get turned away by the GP or early childhood nurse, told to persevere with feeding and that some babies are just unsettled. Reflux symptoms include back arching, crying at feed times, waking from sleep screaming, taking very small amounts of milk and then refusing more, fussing at feed times and being unsettled after feeds. Many babies with reflux have silent reflux and never vomit though some vomit frequently.
Did you know:
- Reflux disease affects up to 8% of children and a much higher percentage of infants
- Some estimates put it as high as 1 in 5 babies
Constipation in children is relatively common and can contribute to the severity of reflux episodes. Up to 1 in 10 children seek medical attention because of constipation. 3 to 5% of all paediatric outpatient and 25% of all paediatric gastroenterology clinic visits are for constipation. Given that all of the top to tail pipes are connected (entire gastro system), it stands to reason that if the bottom is clogged, there is more pressure on the stomach and an increased likelihood that stomach contents may go up rather than down.
Constipation is a relatively benign condition and can be relatively easily treated in consultation with your healthcare professionals. But it can lead to significantly decreased quality of life for children and quite a bit of pain if not treated and over a longer period of time can lead to fear of going to the toilet and other related problems. Fortunately, in most instances, it can be treated quite easily.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GOR) occurs when swallowed foodstuffs move back up into the oesophagus (throat). It may occur with or without vomiting and sometimes pain (heartburn). Reflux occurs frequently in infants and can be normal with no adverse symptoms or side effects. Posetting or spitting up of feeds is also normal and usually resolves in healthy infants by 12 to 14 months of age.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) on the other hand is when reflux starts causing symptomatic problems and side effects for an infant. These problems include oesophagitis (heartburn exhibited by back arching), discomfort and unhappiness, food refusal, weight loss and poor growth.