Baby not sleeping due to reflux – should you medicate?

Pills by Keith Ramsay

A lot of parents come to me with a baby not sleeping due to reflux. It’s a difficult decision whether to medicate or to hope that the baby will get better on their own.

I came across some research which is interesting, although I’m not sure whether it will sit well with everyone.

Last year, Doctor Beth Tarini, a health services researcher at the University of Michigan, published a study about how parents react when given a diagnosis of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD) in their babies. Parents whose babies were given a diagnosis of “GERD” were much more interested in having their child given medication, even after being told the medication was ineffective. Parents whose babies were not labeled with GERD (but were just told there was a “problem”) were not interested in medication after they were told it didn’t work. So what does this mean for you? I discussed this article with one of our clients and this is what she said:

When your baby won’t sleep, you feel desperate. Our baby was in huge discomfort and was gurgling and burping all the time. She wouldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time unless she was upright. We went to our doctor who prescribed medication for reflux. As soon as we gave it to our daughter, we felt like her reflux got better. But having read this article, I wonder whether we were hasty. It was around the same time as Jo came to help us get her to sleep and maybe we didn’t need the medicine. Ultimately, we acted under doctor’s advice and I don’t feel like we harmed our baby but I feel like next time, I might try and wait a bit. I guess, you’d do anything to help your child and I know that when I myself get diagnosed with something, I want to do something about it.

I don’t feel like we should be making parents feel guilty about their choices. But it’s good to think about the influences at work when we decide to give our children medication. As always, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor.

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