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Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a digestive disorder that returns acidic or non-acid stomach juices, food or fluids back up into the esophagus. It is also called acid reflux or heartburn. When the GER becomes an illness, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The symptoms of GER and GERD can vary from “spitting up” to severe difficulties with vomiting, esophageal inflammation, pain and lung problems. At Boston Children’s GI Motility Center, we treat the most difficult cases of GER and GERD.
Boston Children’s pediatric gastroenterology department ranks no. 1, according to U.S.News & World Report. Our team will get to the root of your child’s reflux using sophisticated tests and a team approach to care. Meet our GI Motility team.
Spitting up is a normal occurrence for young infants. As long as your child is growing well and not developing other problems, such as breathing difficulties, the condition needs no treatment and will resolve on its own with time.
However, GERD is considered serious when:
Each child may experience symptoms of GERD differently. Symptoms may include:
The underlying cause of your child’s discomfort may be related to other conditions, such as digestive disorders or pulmonary (lung) problems. We use a comprehensive, holistic approach to diagnosing and treating GERD, often collaborating with experts across multiple specialties.
Our GI Motility Center also specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with GERD that have undergone previous surgical procedures to control the reflux (fundoplication) and continue to have problems after surgery.
We may recommend one or more of these procedures in order to properly diagnose your child’s condition:
Read more about GI motility testing at Boston Children’s.
GERD treatment varies with age. At Boston Children’s, our first step in treating normal reflux in infants is to look for solutions that do not require the use of medication. On your first visit, you will meet with a gastroenterology specialist who may recommend trying different ways of positioning and feeding your infant.
Many babies with GER will outgrow it by the time they are about one year old, as the lower esophageal sphincter becomes stronger. For others, medications that take away the stomach acid, or make the stomach empty faster, can minimize reflux, vomiting and heartburn. Lifestyle and dietary changes may also help.
For more severe cases, the GI Motility Center provides advanced therapies not routinely available. We may recommend surgery to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter and mechanically discourage reflux.
For patients with GERD that have undergone surgery and continue to have problems, we offer a series of specialized treatments that include medications to relax the stomach, such as injections of Botox or medications to improve gastric emptying and help reduce pain.
Depending on the impact that the reflux or its treatment has had on other organs, you may meet with specialists from our Aerodigestive Program. We will work to make these appointments as convenient as possible for you and your child.
Learn more about our GI motility treatments and approach at Boston Children’s.
For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please contact the Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center at 617-355-6055 or request an appointment online.
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