Gastroesophageal reflux refers to the passage of gastric contents including food, acid, and digestive enzymes up into the esophagus. Reflux is most commonly recognized in infants when it is associated with regurgitation, known as “spitting up,” and it is usually a self-limited, benign process that has little or no effect on normal weight gain or development. Adults and adolescents may also have reflux, which is usually either asymptomatic or recognized as dyspepsia or “heartburn.” Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is defined as symptoms or complications that result from reflux. Most evidence suggests the mechanism of reflux is due to transient relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter at inappropriate times. The diagnosis of suspected GERD in infants and children depends on the age and the presenting symptoms. A thorough history, physical examination, and growth charts are sufficient for the evaluation and diagnosis of GERD in most infants with recurrent vomiting or children with regurgitation and heartburn. Additional evaluation may include an upper gastrointestinal series, esophageal pH monitoring, or endoscopy. The goals of GERD management are eliminating symptoms, healing esophagitis, preventing complications, promoting normal weight gain and growth, and maintaining remission. Therapeutic options include lifestyle changes, pharmacologic therapy, and anti-reflux surgery. Currently available pharmacologic agents for the treatment of GERD include antacids, mucosal protectants, prokinetic agents, and acid suppressants.

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