Possible Signs of Colic and/or Reflux: Arch back to escape pain, inconsolable crying, frequent spitting up, sleep disturbance, poor weight gain, more crying at night compared to day-time.
Normal Weight Gain: 6-8 ounces/week or 2 lbs/month for the 1st 3 months
Colic has been defined as excessive, inconsolable crying of the infant, and research has shown that 10-20% of all infants under the age of 4 months suffer from infantile colic. Episodes of colic can happen anytime day or night, but will usually begin to follow a pattern.
The general consensus between pediatricians is that colic is caused by excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract and so their response is, of course, to utilize colic medicine. The most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of colic is dimethicone. The side effects of this drug include: fatigue, sedation, blurred vision, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea and headache. While this list is certainly reason for pause, the most alarming fact is that the makers of this drug note on their literature that this chemical should not be given to infants under 6 months of age. Always ask for and read the drug inserts to be informed about this vital information.
While most infants will spit up a little after eating, infant reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a whole different matter entirely. It typically happens due to a relaxation of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus, and is considered a result of a lack of coordination between the organs of the upper digestive system.
Sometime reflux symptoms in babies start a few weeks after birth. This is because allergies or sensitivities to foods take time to develop. The infant has a leaky gut until about 6 months old. Proteins from foods and beverages are able to leak through the digestive tissue causing an immune response, therefore causing food sensitivities.
Sometimes the matter being regurgitated is breast milk or formula, but a lot of times it will include stomach acids causing the infant to be extremely distressed due to the discomfort caused to the esophagus.
The highest concern when an infant is suffering from infant reflux is the fear of “failure to thrive.” Since sometimes a large amount of the child’s nutrition is being regurgitated, many parents worry that they aren’t getting enough nutrition. With this concern in mind many pediatricians will immediately prescribe a drug treatment regimen.
Drugs can be given to infants with reflux, but usually the problem persists. The problem with using a drug that blocks acid production is that the body needs the acid to break down food. The acid in the stomach also helps to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing. Drugs may also cause other digestive issues and increased risk of pneumonia and gut infections later in life.
The drugs most commonly used to treat infantile reflux are H2 blockers such as ranitidine, famotidine and nizatidine (also known as Tagamet, Zantac and Pepcid). With all of these chemicals the side effects can include sleepiness, dizziness, rapid or changed heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and trouble breathing. It should also be noted that since this is a prescription that has to be given on a regular basis at specified times, missing doses can also cause irritating and uncomfortable side effects.
The second round of treatment when H2 blockers fail is usually proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These include esomeprazole, omeprazole and lansoprazole (also known as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid). With these chemicals the side effects can include headache, diarrhea, abnormal heartbeat, rash, dizziness, muscle pain as well as nausea and vomiting. Has it not occurred to them that they’re actually causing what they want to stop?
You are not alone. We can figure this out together. Even if you are bottle feeding your baby breastmilk, we can help. Call us to schedule your lactation consultation today.
***If formula feeding
Have more questions about colic and infant reflux? Call First Step Family Wellness today at 314-805-7837, or fill out our contact form!