Baby Reflux, also called Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), is the effortless regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus after a feed.
It expresses itself as spitting up or vomiting, irritability, arching back, abdominal distension and pain, paroxysmal crying, difficulty to sleep when lying down. It is a very common complaint among neonates. It is estimated that up to 67% of all newborns suffer from GER before four months of age. The aetiology of primary GER is multi-factorial. There seems to be a general consensus on a certain degree of immaturity and therefore weakness of the lower esophagus sphincter (LES), a muscle located at the top of the stomach that contract to keep the stomach closed. If this muscle is too relaxed, the content of the stomach pass up into the esophagus leading to spitting or vomiting.
Even though GER is recognised as a self-limiting condition that improves with time, osteopathic intervention can help with some of the symptoms, offering some relief not only to the baby but also to the sleep deprived parents.
Prior to treating your baby, the osteopath will ask you questions about your pregnancy and delivery. Every details will be recorded as each piece of information might be a clue to build a tailored treatment for your child. For instance the birth process puts some of the skull parts through a complex array of forces that might lead to moulding, straining and consequently irritating some of the cranial nerves exiting the cranium that affect the stomach and esophagus.
Depending on the baby’s medical and birth history, an osteopath will evaluate and treat a baby as a whole. However she might pay closer attention to the following:
- The structures around the stomach and their innervation that might be play a role in the GER symptoms i.e. diaphragm
- The thoracic spine where the innervation of the guts and stomach comes from.
- The quality of the membranes around the brain that might have been affected by the birth process. Gentle techniques can be used to address some possible site of compression around the cranial base but also encourage a healthier innervation of the gut.
If you need to know more about how osteopathy can help with mums and babies, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie James from Osteoperformance at firstname.lastname@example.org.