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Treating Children with GERD


Updated March 20, 2008

The course of treatment the doctor prescribes for your child will depend on your child's age and symptoms.

The doctor may first suggest lifestyle modifications to see if this will ease the reflux symptoms. These modifications can include:

Have your child eat smaller, more frequent meals
Large meals expand the stomach and can increase upward pressure against the lower esophageal sphincter.

Limit your child's intake of acid-stimulating foods and beverages
These foods include:

  • Fatty meats
  • Fried foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Citrus juices
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee
  • Carbonated beverages, such as colas
  • Peppers
  • Garlic and onions
To help your child avoid these foods while at school, you can try these tips for packing his school lunches.

Wait at least two or three hours after eating for bedtime
Gravity helps keep the stomach juices from backing up into the esophagus and assists the flow of food and digestive juices from the stomach to the intestines.

Elevate your child's head while he sleeps
Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. Ask your child's doctor how high to elevate the head.

Have your child wear loose-fitting clothes around the waist and stomach
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts and tight-waisted jeans.

Keep a heartburn record
You can record when your child experiences heartburn symptoms, what foods your child consumed or what activity he was doing before the heartburn occurred, the severity of each heartburn episode, and what gave him relief. You can then take this information to your child's doctor so you can both determine if any other modifications to diet, activity, or medications need to be made. To get you started, you can use this heartburn record.

If reflux symptoms continue, the doctor may suggestion one of the following remedies:

Acid Blockers
Also known as H2 blockers, these suppress acid production in the stomach. These include:

Acid Suppressers
Also known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), these completely block acid production in the stomach. These include:

Additional Resources:


"Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 07–0882 May 2007. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 18 Mar 2008.

"Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children and Adolescents." NIH Publication No. 06–5418 August 2006. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 18 Mar 2008.

Marsha Kay, M.D., Vasundhara Tolia, M.D.. "COMMON GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS IN PEDIATRIC PATIENTS." American College of Gastroenterology. 18 Mar 2008.

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  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Heartburn / GERD
  4. GERD
  5. Children and Acid Reflux
  6. Acid Reflux in Children - Treatment
  7. Treating Children with GERD - Treating GERD in Children - GERD Treatment in Children

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