What is gastroesophageal reflux (GER)?
Gastroesophageal reflux, also called GE reflux or GER,
happens when the contents of the stomach back up into
What causes GER?
In most babies with GER, the ring of muscles
(sphincter) that separates the stomach and the
esophagus is not fully developed. When the
ring does not close tightly, the stomach
contents can back up into the esophagus.
As the baby matures, the muscles grow stronger
and the GER often stops.
GER can also happen when the baby swallows too much
air. This can occur when the baby is fed too quickly.
What are the symptoms of GER?
Symptoms of GER include:
• Spitting up
• Refusing to eat
• Fussing during or after feedings
• Coughing or wheezing
• Crying when lying face up, especially
How common is GER?
GER is very common, especially in premature babies.
Does GER cause permanent problems?
In most cases, GER does not cause permanent harm
to the baby. It usually goes away as the baby grows
What treatment will my baby receive?
Many cases of GER may be helped by changing how the baby
is fed. The health care team may recommend:
• Smaller, more frequent feedings
• Holding the baby upright (in a sitting position) during
feeding and for 15 to 30 minutes after feeding
• Burping the baby during and after feedings
• Not bouncing or jiggling the baby after feeding
• If breast-feeding, changes to the mother’s diet can
make a difference
• If formula-feeding, trying another type may help (for
example: cow, soy, or elemental)
In a few cases, GER may be a symptom of a more serious
problem. If needed, tests will be ordered to find the cause of the
problem. The health care team will talk with you about the tests
and possible treatment.
Treating Gastroesophageal Reflux
What will happen next?
In most cases, GER goes away on its own; however, each
baby is different. Talk to your baby’s health care team. It
is important to keep your baby’s appointments after you
leave the hospital.
Esophageal – related to the
Esophagus – tube connecting the
mouth and the stomach
Gastro – related to the stomach
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) –
contents of the stomach back up
into the esophagus
Sphincter – ring of muscles that
separates parts of the digestive
track, for example, between the
esophagus and the stomach