New guidelines help pediatricians diagnose acid reflux in infants

Published April 30, 2013

| FoxNews.com

If your baby is battling acid reflux – it doesn’t necessarily mean they have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology is created a new list of recommendations for pediatricians to follow when diagnosing and treating acid reflux.

The guidelines stress the importance of distinguishing between “GER” and “GERD,” and they explain what the difference is, how to diagnose it and how to treat it, said Dr. Skylar Kalady, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital.

GERD occurs in more than two-thirds of otherwise healthy patients.

However, some infants simply have GER – which means they don’t have the disease component.

GERD is associated with complications, such as poor weight gain, pneumonias, extreme irritability and vomiting to name a few, Kalady said.

The guidelines stipulate that medications should only be used in treating GERD. If doctors can distinguish between the two, parents and children can avoid unnecessary costs and treatments.

Children who suffer from GER can benefit from lifestyle changes, like changing positions while feeding.

And surgery should be reserved for those who are at risk for life-threatening complications.

Kalady said the new guidelines are helpful.

“If they’re having GER, then we can reassure the families and probably those patients really need some changes in their behavior and feeding patterns,” Kalady said, “but likely do not need medications, whereas those with GERD – with the disease component – they likely would benefit from the behavior modifications, feeding changes, as well as potential medical drug therapy.”

The new recommendations are outlined in the online journal of Pediatrics.

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