Gastroesophageal reflux in infants and children.
Gastroesophageal reflux is a common, self-limited process in infants that usually resolves by six to 12 months of age. Effective, conservative management involves thickened feedings, positional treatment, and parental reassurance. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a less common, more serious pathologic process that usually warrants medical management and diagnostic evaluation. Differential diagnosis includes upper gastrointestinal tract disorders; cow's milk allergy; and metabolic, infectious, renal, and central nervous system diseases. Pharmacologic management of GERD includes a prokinetic agent such as metoclopramide or cisapride and a histamine-receptor type 2 antagonist such as cimetidine or ranitidine when esophagitis is suspected. Although recent studies have supported the cautious use of cisapride in childhood GERD, the drug is currently not routinely available in the United States.
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