Gastric reflux in children: What is the cause?

Gastric reflux in children can affect the development of children. The important thing is that you need to know why and how to prevent it.

Gastroesophageal reflux is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that occurs when gastric acid in the stomach, or other food and liquids go back into the esophagus. Find out what causes stomach reflux in children and how to prevent it below.

Causes of gastroesophageal reflux in children

The cause of gastroesophageal reflux in children is classified into 2 categories, which are physiological and pathological causes.

Physiological causes

• Unstable gastrointestinal organs: The child’s digestive system and stomach are incomplete, moreover, the stomach is closer to the chest than adults.

• Muscular sphincter has not developed: The esophageal sphincter opening and closing operation are ineffective, making it easy for food to flow back up into the esophagus.

• Food consumed daily: Children often absorb nutrients mainly through milk or porridge. These products are all in soft liquid form so they easily pass through the small gap in the sphincter.

• Drinking milk: Children who use cow’s milk will increase the risk of gastric reflux than breast-feeding. Because cow’s milk is slowly digested, it stays in the stomach longer.

• Feeding position: Usually babies are breastfed in a horizontal position, especially at night. However, in this position, the stomach will be horizontal and easy to cause the milk to come down to the stomach to be refluxed up to the mouth.

Pathological causes

Some congenital diseases also cause children to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux such as diaphragmatic hernia or severe gastric hernia. These diseases weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, causing food to overflow into the esophagus and are common in children under 1 year of age. Some children are also likely to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux if they have cerebral palsy, systemic infection, open heart valve …

Gastric reflux in children from birth to 2 years is usually due to physiological causes, especially children under 6 months of age. Up to 90% of children experience symptoms within 12-18 months. For children older than 2 years of age, reflux symptoms appear, mainly due to the accompanying pathological signs such as:

Pain behind the sternum with heartburn
Slow weight gain, malnutrition, anemia
Cough often or relapse, wheezing, difficulty swallowing
Frequent vomiting, fussiness, anorexia, restless sleep
Gastric reflux in physiological children usually does not last long or cause complications, children still breastfeed, eat, eat, gain weight normally and do not disturb crying.

Gastric reflux in children if untreated can lead to complications:

Bleeding esophagus
Swelling and burning of esophagus
A respiratory problem occurs due to acid refluxing into the trachea, lungs or nose
Form scar tissue in the esophagus that affects swallowing of food
You should take your child to see the pediatrician if symptoms of reflux occur frequently and cause discomfort to the child. At the same time avoid buying drugs voluntarily because it can cause dangerous problems to your baby’s health.

How to prevent childhood gastroesophageal reflux

During the care process, you need to pay attention to the following issues:

  • Prepare spacious and comfortable clothes for children
  • Feed children before going to bed for about 3 hours
  • Divide meals into small, small meals and feed them regularly
  • After eating, hold the baby in an upright position for about 30 minutes, avoid letting the child lie down immediately
  • Limit acidic, spicy, caffeine, and harmful fats because these foods are very harmful to stomach health.
  • Give the baby to breastfeed in the first position 30 degrees high and let him stay in this position both at sleep, or maybe lie on the left side to help relieve symptoms of belching, heartburn.

In case of severe reflux symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat stomach pain such as:

  • H2 receptor antagonists help prevent gastric acid secretion
  • Proton pump inhibitors help reduce the amount of acid secreted by the stomach
  • Prokinetic drugs are used to increase esophageal contraction and increase the force of the lower esophageal sphincter to help empty the stomach

Gastroesophageal reflux in children affects the ability to absorb nutrients, causing retarded children. Therefore, take note of how to take care of children, prevent them properly and take them to see a doctor early if there are unusual symptoms!

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