HERB - Good news and bad news - long reply

Lyn Greaves- Thorny Rose rosamund at frontiernet.net
Fri Sep 1 10:09:35 PDT 2000

Hello, lady -

I am not a regular member of this list but the lady whose mail I am using
brought this to my attention as I'm a neonatal nurse.

(unfortunately necessary stuff: Please note that the following is offered as
information only - not medical advice:  please discuss all of this with your
pediatrician before implementing any of it)

Some degree of reflux is not uncommon in newborns - although it is a little
different from "acid reflux" in adults.  Generally it can be attributed to
the level of development of the gastro-esophageal sphincter - the muscle
that helps keep food in the tummy from backing up as the other muscles - and
the baby's position try and push it back up to the esophagus (the "food
pipe").  Most babies grow out of this as they get a little bit older.  As
you know, they are still developing at a furious rate when they are born -
if not all the bits are "finished" this is generally not something to be
overly concerned about.

The most basic intervention that we use all of the time in the nursery is
keeping the baby's head elevated, particularly during and after feeding.
This helps keep the food where it needs to be using the simplest and least
invasive process - simple mechnics and gravity!  You can build up the head
of baby's bed by putting a pillow under the mattress at one end.  (note: the
APA recommends that you not add any pillows blankets or stuffed animals in
the bed on top of the mattress at least until the baby can turn over
independently, as soft "clutter" in the bed may be associated with increased
risk of SIDS). Some stores also sell wedges that can be used for the same

You also might want to talk to your pediatrician about using thickened
feeds.  If you are breast feeding, you may want to discuss the possible
benefit of pumping and adding some rice cereal or other thickening agent (or
adding the same to formula if that is appropriate) and feeding by bottle
until your baby's system is tolerating the thinner feeds better.

A note on herbal or "alternative/complementary" therapies.  While I use some
of these things on myeslf with great success, I am rather concerned about
their use with infants as there are generally not great studies done on them
using infants and children.  If you do choose to use ANY herbal or
alternative/complementary treatment be certian that your pediatrician knows
what, how much and how frequently (this means everything from herbs to
chiropractic and treatments like ear candling, steam baths, accupressure,
etc.)  Any treatment can have effects that we do not anticipate especially
if unwittingly combined with other treatments.  But then, that's my little
soap box - having seen some odd interactions that resulted from the actions
of well meaning and highly intelligent parents who didn't think that a
"benign herb" could have deliterious effects or who thought that a natural
product would automatically be safer than a "chemical" one.

Thanks for the space - I hope that this gives you some options to discuss
with your pediatrician.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby - may you revel in the little joys
of parenthood!

Alatheia Fenwick

> The bad news comes in two parts -  the first is he has acid reflux.  I was
> wondering if there was anyone on the list that might have some input on
> particular infant disorder.


> Christina N.

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