Q: My breastfed baby is 4 weeks old and spits up all the time. The doctor says she has reflux. What is this?
A: Reflux is a fairly common condition in which food and digestive juices back up into the esophagus from the stomach, often causing excessive spitting-up and, rarely, vomiting. Since your baby is breastfed, you may want to try eliminating such common allergens as dairy, eggs, wheat and peanuts from your diet; some women say they've had good success with this approach. If it doesn't help, your doctor may choose to prescribe medication for your infant.
Most babies outgrow reflux by age 1. In the meantime, place your daughter on her stomach with her upper body elevated at least 30 degrees after feedings, or hold her in a sitting position in your lap for 30 minutes. Also burp her several times while nursing.
Rarely, a baby will inhale stomach contents and develop respiratory irritation, ear infections and even pneumonia. This is the extreme form of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you suspect your baby has this condition--symptoms include wheezing, gagging or choking, a refusal to eat and frequent colds--call your doctor.