1. Home
  2. Health Information
  3. Digestive Diseases
  4. Acid Reflux (GER & GERD) in Infants

Acid Reflux (GER & GERD) in Infants

View or Print All Sections

Definition & Facts

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus causing heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious and long-lasting form of GER and may prevent an infant from feeding.

Symptoms & Causes

The main symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in infants is spitting up more than they normally do. Other symptoms include colic, vomiting, and refusing to eat. GERD happens when an infant’s lower esophageal sphincter is not fully developed.

Diagnosis

If an infant’s GER symptoms don’t improve or if they come back frequently, he or she may need testing for GERD. Tests may include an upper GI endoscopy, an upper GI series, or esophageal pH monitoring.

Treatment

Treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) depends on the infant’s symptoms and age and may involve feeding changes, medicines, or surgery.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

If feeding changes don’t help an infant’s gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, a doctor may suggest a higher-calorie formula or tube feedings.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support basic and clinical research into many digestive disorders.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.