Reflux occurs when a baby brings up milk during, or shortly after, feeding.1 Regurgitation is when this refluxed milk reaches the mouth and may be spat out. Reflux and regurgitation are more passive actions and should not be confused with vomiting, which is the forced muscular expulsion of milk from the stomach.1
Reflux and regurgitation may be unsettling to witness, but are both normal processes that can occur due to a physiological immaturity of the lower esophageal sphincter. As the digestive tract develops, the situation usually resolves; however, before this development is complete, avoiding force-feeding an infant too much milk at one time and regular burping can help reduce the occurrence of reflux and regurgitation.1
What causes regurgitation in infants?
In rare cases, there may be an underlying cause to excessive reflux or regurgitation. These include gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, where the muscle valve between the oesophagus and stomach is weak and fails to function correctly, or a blockage in the digestive tract.1
Reflux and regurgitation as symptoms of Cows' Milk Allergy
CMA and reflux are considered to be among the most common disturbances in infants.3,4 Reflux and regurgitation are known to be common symptoms of CMA.4,5,6 Cows' milk protein has been shown to be associated with and responsible for inducing symptoms of reflux in almost 50% of infants under the age of 12 months.3,4,5
The majority of infants affected with CMA have at least two symptoms affecting at least two different organ systems.7,8 If you suspect non-IgE mediated CMA, you can use the CoMiSS® tool10 to score the combination of their symptoms and assess the likelihood of CMA.
Other signs and symptoms related to CMA10-12
· Gastrointestinal/Digestive: Vomiting, reflux, regurgitation, anorexia, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, blood in stools
· Respiratory: Chronic cough, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny nose
· Skin: Rash, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, angioedema
· General: Failure to thrive, anaphylaxis, insomnia, inconsolable crying, pallor and tiredness