Definition & Facts for GER & GERD in Infants

What is GER?

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Infants—babies younger than 2 years—with GER spit up liquid mostly made of saliva and stomach acid. Stomach acid that touches the lining of the infant’s esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion.

Does GER have another name?

Doctors also refer to GER as

  • acid indigestion
  • acid reflux
  • acid regurgitation
  • heartburn
  • reflux

How common is GER in infants?

GER is common in infants. About half of all infants spit up, or regurgitate, many times a day in the first 3 months of their lives. In most cases, infants stop spitting up between the ages of 12 and 14 months.1

What is GERD?

GERD is a more serious and long-lasting form of GER in which acid reflux irritates the esophagus.

What is the difference between GER and GERD?

Infants with symptoms that prevent them from feeding or those with GER that lasts more than 12 to 14 months may actually have GERD. If you think your infant has GERD, you should take him or her to see a doctor or a pediatrician.

How common is GERD in infants?

GERD is common in infants. Two-thirds of 4-month-olds have symptoms of GERD. By 1 year old, up to 10 percent of infants have symptoms of GERD.1

References

April 2015
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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.