Reflux disease (GERD) causing behavior disorder


Sad face from Tummy-Pain Colic at the Clinic Dr-Rodney-Ford

Andrew is a tricky 2-year-old boy. He came to see me with what his parents called a “behavior disorder”. They said he was uncomfortable and squirmy, especially after meals. He would wake in the night and be irritable and cranky. He easily got agitated and moody. Interestingly, he was “a screamer” as a baby being very distressed and having lots of vomiting. He was treated with medication to reduce the acid in his first few months of life that helped lot. The medication was stopped by one year of age.

Reflux disease (GERD) causing behavior disorder

To me, it seemed that Andrew was getting gastric reflux disease again, and that this pain was causing him this behavior disruption.

So I started Andrew back on omeprazole 10 mg a day. His parents said, “he has had a personality change! For the better! It has made such a big difference, he is now happy and chatty again”.

The message from the story is that gastric reflux disease (GORD, GERD) can present as behavior disorders in children. Look out for it.

Another baby with gastric reflux (GORD, GERD)

Sally had been a very difficult for baby. In the first few months she had been upset, screaming all the time, very unsettled and thrashing about distressed. She would wake with inconsolable crying and be on off the breast. She was not gaining weight well. She was vomiting with most feeds.  He mother did know what to do.
It turns out that Sally had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD, GERD). I immediately prescribed omeprazole. Within a week she settled down and became a happy perfect baby.
Sadie will stay on this medication for the next few months and then wean off it.
The problem of not treating gastric reflux disease is that these babies are more difficult to bond with, they are more difficult to feed, they can develop food aversion, and suffer pain and distress through their first year of life, which can change their personality.
I think reflux disease is a very important disease to both diagnose and manage. I’m pleased that Sally, with her GERD properly treated, is doing so well.  Unfortunately, this week I will see yet another baby with gastric reflux (GORD, GERD) – but thankfully I can help.
By Rodney Ford