Last updated on Jan 31st, 2021 at 08:52 pm

4.   Gastric reflux and vomiting

There are numerous causes of vomiting in a newborn or young child, which range from mild illnesses to severe life-threatening conditions, according to Dr Natasha Padayachee-Govender, a paediatrician at Life Fourways Hospital.

“There’s a difference between vomiting and spitting up, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Vomiting usually has a lot more force behind it and is larger in quantity. Spitting up often occurs with a burp after feeding. The medical term for this is gastroesophageal reflux.

“There’s a difference between vomiting and spitting up, although the terms are often used interchangeably.”

“Vomiting is a symptom that suggests an underlying problem, so it is important for your little one to have a complete history taken as well as a thorough examination.”

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The following are especially important in determining the cause:

  • Nature of the vomiting, such as the colour, the presence of blood, and whether it’s projectile or not
  • Duration, which is ‘severe’ if for longer than 12 hours in an infant, 24 hours in children younger than two, and 48 hours in older children
  • Associated symptoms, which include diarrhoea, moderate to severe dehydration, severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and fever

If your child has any of the above signs or is lethargic, has lost weight or has a distended or tender tummy, he should be assessed by your doctor and immediately referred to the appropriate specialist paediatrician or paediatric surgeon.

Medical treatment for vomiting depends on the underlying cause, says Dr Padayachee-Govender, while reflux may be minimised by measures such as offering more frequent and smaller feeds, keeping your baby upright after feeds, changing his formula or bottle teats, and elevating his head when he is lying down.

Registered homeopath Dr Sheetal Daya suggests using a probiotic to aid digestion and avoid constipation, by preventing an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

Homeopathic remedies to ease the discomfort of reflux include camomile and Nat phos, which alleviate high acid levels in the stomach that make gastric reflux worse. “Arsenicum album will help children who do not want to eat or drink, while homeopathic medicines such as Nux vomica, Phosphorus and Sulphur can all be effective, but should be individually prescribed by a registered homeopath according to the nature of the symptoms,” says Dr Daya.