Help for Infant Reflux without Medication

By Dr. Cynthia Horner


 Quite often I get a phone call from a mother of an infant, usually between 3 to 10 weeks old, asking for help because their baby has infant reflux. They tell me their infant is on Zantac and Prilosec, and they were advised to stop nursing and start infant formula. Many of these moms tell me their medical doctors recommend they put rice cereal in the formula to ‘keep the formula down’. If this worked I wouldn’t be hearing from these moms, treating their infants or writing this article.

Humans are wired to survive, nursing and digesting food are vital to survival. Reflux is not normal for infants or adults. It is a sign that something is wrong.  My experience as a chiropractor is with the brain, spine and nervous system so why do I claim to know about the digestive system? The gut is intimately related to the brain. Most neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are made in the gut. An unhealthy gut means and an unhealthy brain.

It is Usually Candida Albicans

What I tell these mothers is to explore the idea that Candida Albicans overgrowth as the cause of their infant’s distress. In my 20 some years of practice I have found that it usually is. Candida is a yeast that lives in the digestive tract and competes with the helpful bacteria referred to as ‘ micro-flora’. Helpful bacteria such as lactobacillus and acidophilus, live throughout the body but in large numbers in the gut. These micro-flora help digest food, synthesize vitamin K and synthesize some of the B vitamins as well as fight against the growth of harmful bacteria, without these helpful germs the immune system is unable to do its job adequately.

How Babies Get Micro-flora

Infants in the womb have no micro-flora, they get beneficial bacteria in the birthing process. These bacteria are passed from mother to infant’s nose and mouth when passing through the birth canal. If the mother has taken antibiotics, prednisone or cortisone in the months before conception, while pregnant or while delivering there is a very great chance she has destroyed her micro-flora and Candida is in a state of overgrowth. She will pass Candida on to her infant either in the birthing process of when nursing. Many babies will refuse to nurse or fuss at nursing because of the mother’s Candida  overgrowth. If the birth is a C-section the baby is born with neither helpful bacteria nor Candida. Nursing then passes either micro-flora or Candida to the infant. If  a C-section infant is not nursed, digestive problems often occur because of lack of micro-flora, with the result being infant reflux.

Conventional Treatment Damages the Digestive Tract

Medications, such as Zantac and Prilosec, that decrease acid in the stomach only further damage the digestive tract by not allowing the stomach to do what it is designed to do, break down food. As undigested food travels through the gut it further burdens the digestive tract and does not allow the infant’s body to benefit from the nutrients it holds and creates large difficult to pass, waste. Rice cereal in formula is creating many more digestive problems because babies do not have the enzyme amylase needed to break down carbohydrates until their first teeth.

My Advice

My advice to these mothers is to give their infants a probiotic supplement made for infants, and to take one made for adults themselves. A probiotic is a supplement of the helpful bacteria or microflora. The probiotic supplements for infants are a powder that is mixed with water and given with an eye dropper. Very little is needed several times a day for about two to three weeks to ensure a good colony is established. Any time a course of antibiotics is taken a probiotic should be taken for several weeks after the antibiotic is finished. I do not carry probiotics for infants but they can be purchased at any good health food store.

What my patients have taught me:    “People may benefit from good advice but they flourish when given the space to come to their own conclusions.”