Reflux in children with cerebral palsy

Reflux is when stomach contents travel up towards the throat.

Sometimes cerebral palsy affects the muscles and function of the gastro-intestinal tract, the pathway where food and drink enter and move through the body.

Symptoms of reflux in children

Your doctor may be able to diagnose reflux based on symptoms. In other cases, they may decide to:

  • monitor acid levels in the oesophagus and stomach over 24 hours (a pH study)
  • watch how food is digested by x-ray (barium study)

Treatment for babies with reflux

Your doctor may try strategies to reduce symptoms. These may include:

  • feeding your baby in an upright position
  • winding your baby after small amounts of food
  • keeping your baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes after the feed

Sometimes your doctor or dietician may try to make milk feeds thicker to see if this helps reduce symptoms. Some medicines can reduce the production of stomach acid. Others can neutralise the acid in the stomach.

Always seek advice from your doctor before starting reflux medications.

Reflux can get better as children get older

Reflux problems can get better in some children.

But children who are not in an upright position much or who have muscle problems may not grow out of it.

If problems are severe or persist

If reflux persists, your doctor may want to discuss the idea of tube feeding with you.

Tube feeding

There are surgical techniques that can help. Talk to your doctor about the probable benefits and possible difficulties.

Talk to other people about reflux on our online community

Last reviewed by Scope on: 12/02/2024

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