Banner Health Services  

Newborns and reflux


Matthew Bennett, MD.,  is a board-certified pediatrician on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center.

Question: My newborn baby is throwing up after he feeds. Should I switch formulas?

Answer: More than likely, your son has gastroesophageal reflux (GER), a common occurrence in newborn babies.

GER occurs when the stomach contents "reflux" or go into the esophagus during or after a feeding. Up to 40 percent of newborn babies can spit up or "reflux" on a regular basis after feeding while they are in the first three months of life. This does not necessarily imply that your son is not tolerating his formula.

Most often, newborns have problems with reflux simply because their physiological make-up is different from adults. GER occurs because the ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter, is not as strong as it is in an adult. This allows for easy passage of the stomach's contents back up into the esophagus. Combine that with a liquid diet and spending a lot of time on your back and you have got a "spitty" baby. GER is not related to which formula is being consumed so switching formulas will not help.

Try something as simple as keeping your son upright after he is fed. Or, you might want to change your feeding schedule to smaller amounts with more frequent feedings.

If your baby shows signs of poor weight gain, irritability or feeding refusal due to pain or chronic coughing, you should consult your pediatrician. Your son might have abnormal GER, referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which may require further evaluation.

Most babies who have trouble in the beginning will outgrow their reflux without ever needing medical intervention. If the problem persists, your pediatrician may recommend testing for allergies or a further evaluation to best help your son thrive.


Page Last Modified: 08/05/2013
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