The Reason for Reflux in Infants is Rampant

In this discussion on reflux in infants, I will be sharing the different factors I have observed from 15 yrs experience in Infant ICU’s and 13 years of treating infants with Reflux in my Family Chiropractic practice.

Reflux is common these days for many reasons. It is most often described as the involuntary spitting up of breast milk or formula (large or small amounts) seen in the infants mouth. There is pain associated with it as stomach acid irritates the swallowing tube, the esophagus.

Other reasons for spitting up large amounts of milk from the mouth need to be ruled-out, like pyloric stricture, intassuseption of the large and small intestines (which I had as an infant).

Any hospitalization where infants were given antibiotics, are common to the history of infants with reflux.

With this, the infants don’t absorb enough nutrients from the milk and need to eat more often than other infants, and in extreme cases can fail to thrive. An overgrowth of yeast is associated with this frequent feeding scenario.

The factors setting up and driving the condition are as follows:

  • Maternal factors
  • OB/Gyn factors
  • Infant anatomy factors
  • Environmental factors.

These all dove tail together so that reflux among infants is multi-causal, and that is why in the literature about it, no one really knows why it occurs.

Maternal factors: Mothers previous use of antibiotics, even in teen years, and childhood years, (for example, think frequent antibiotics used to treat ear infections), or any other infections, decreases the mothers normal flora. If her mother wasn’t aware of the need to get back the balance in her daughters gut after these antibiotics, (which can take 3 months) it sets her up with inadequate flora for life. It is very hard to re-colonize the gut after many courses of antibiotics. She is then unable to colonize her infants gut at birth. All infants are born with a leaky gut and depend upon their mothers to colonize them in the first few weeks and months with friendly bacteria to seal up these holes in their intestine, and also it creates the needed competition towards yeast, and reduces the yeast that is always present. This increases the likelihood of inordinate amounts of gas in the infants colon and stomach, a by-product of yeast assimilation of nutrients and sugars.

OB/GYN factors:

From taking a careful history on the mothers of Reflux afflicted babies, I have observed the following: Pregnant women who hire OB/Gyn’s as their birth doctors over midwives have far more C-Section births as they are hiring a surgeon first.

A C-section requires their surgeons to use antibiotics which are hung during surgery in every case, to avoid maternal infections. But this use across the board causes gassy babies.

I have interviewed hundreds of mothers and seen the correlation first hand.

Midwives promote the use of probiotics during pregnancy and during postpartum time, decreasing the likelihood of infantile gas and yeast overproduction.

The OB/Gyn’s also pull the infants out of the excised uterus by any means that they can. And it is done quickly. A smaller hole in the uterus is preferred and in many cases the head and neck are pulled out with force because the uterus is a closed vacuum system. I have been present at probably close to 12 Cesareans, and in most heard a pop when the infant was pulled out. So there is tremendous back pressure the OB must pull against when the infant is brought out of the uterus. The delicate tissue and structures of the upper cervical spine get disrupted, changed or misaligned. This disrupts the vagus nerve which innervates the gut in these infants.

This disruption of the normal nerve conduction of the cranial nerve ten, the vagus nerve, can be attributed to abnormal peristalsis in the infantile gut and a back up of stomach contents into the mouth. (See Pediatric Chiropractic, chapter 33, Anrig and Plaugher 2014)

Infant Anatomy factors:

As a nurse I studied anatomy and physiology and then again as a Chiropractic student and spent 2 years in Cadaver lab. Infants have a more floppy, if you will, pyloric sphincter and cardiac sphincter. These are the flaps at the end and top of the stomach. They normally have the tone that keeps food where it should be, either in the stomach or small intestines. The pressure of gas building up from an over-colonization of yeast in the small intestine will have an effect on the stomach since the pyloric sphincter is weak in an infant. And the stomach pressure often builds in the same scenario which across the board has been present in the reflux babies I have seen. The cardiac sphincter is weak and food easily can pass from the stomach to the esophagus and up the throat to the mouth of these gassy babies.

They are often hungry every 1 1/2 to 2 hours instead of the babies without gas or reflux who eat on demand every 3-4 hours. The yeast is driving the babies hunger.

Yeast or Candida Albicans is present in all at birth and is either in balance with friendly bacteria keeping it in check or it isn’t in extreme cases, thrush develops.

The other Infant Anatomy factor in Reflux goes back to the mention of Cranial nerve 10 which is the Vagus nerve being compressed at birth by either hyperextension of the head on the neck which disrupts normal nerve flow from this nerve or the hypoglossal nerve or the sympathetic chain in the neck from a compressed head and neck during normal delivery.

If the history contains a more prolonged birth over 30 hours or a very fast birth 4 hours or less, infants will have more gas, head preference, lopsided heads or torticollis.

Thus, the need for gentle infant Chiropractic adjustments and/or Craniosacral Therapy.

Environmental factors:

As we all know, our food is irradiated and in some cases sterilized rendering the friendly bacteria dead. Our animals are given antibiotics “to keep them healthy”. We are eating antibiotic laden meat. And de-vitalized produce, lacking vitamins and minerals. These impact our health and gut bacteria.

A diet heavy in bread, and bananas and easy to grab foods in postpartum women can contribute to the yeast load that causes gas.

Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents and the Atomic Bomb seem like far away and long ago phenomena, but to me, I see it play a part in the amount of friendly bacteria in our world.

Mothers these days carry around anti-bacterial hand wash in their purses and use it frequently, to what detriment of their health and their children’s? Hospitals enforce the use of antibacterial washes anytime you enter a patients room, even to the detriment of the nurses health. As if gloves weren’t enough. I am all for protecting patients but when nurses are breaking out into sores from these caustic chemicals, I really question the wisdom.

The average American eats over 100 pounds of sugar a year in the Standard American Diet, SAD, contributing to the yeast and parasite load in our guts.

Need more? Pesticides and Herbacides sprayed over head in Agricultural communities and Chem trails in Urban settings add to the toxic load.

I recommend infant and mother probiotic use, Chiropractic reflex techniques on the abdomen of the infants and Craniosacral and Chiropractic if needed on the baby and mother to deal with this problem. As well as reprogramming the infant and mother using the expelled breast milk or formula as a possible allergen.

These all together with some dietary changes in the mother’s diet, should help clear up the Reflux in just a few visits. Many times in the first visit significant changes are seen.