Reflux and Ear Infections in Infants Related to Food Allergy



Doris J. Rapp, Ph.D., M.D.
State University of New York at Buffalo
[See our Environmental Control category for more recent publications by Dr. Rapp]

Clues to Infant Allergy
Allergic infants often have a history of kicking or hiccupping much more than normal during the fetal period. Sometimes this can be related to specific food or chemical exposures. Many such infants cannot sleep, scream and cry for hours, and are found not to tolerate a wide variety of formulas. These babies may resist being held, smile infrequently, and may gag, spit, or vomit much more than normal. They often bounce the crib off the walls or bang their heads or scratch their ears til they bleed. Some even need body length bibs because of excess drooling and need frequent clothing changes because of extreme perspiration. The latter may lead to excessive numbers of infections. Mothers also may note that the baby’s buttocks suddenly appear “scalded”.

Sequelae to Unsuspected Infant Allergy
It is not unusual for some unrecognized nasal allergies to lead to unnecessary surgery of recurrent serious otitis. Other infants may be diagnosed as having pyloric stenosis or reflux with secondary aspiration pneumonia. Some of the latter infants are treated with irreversible surgery in the form of Nissen fundoplasty to tighten the lower end of the esophagus.
This presentation will include discussion of the above problems. Could some of the reflux be missed food allergy? Could some infant surgery be markedly diminished with proper recognition and treatment of infant allergies? How can we increase the pediatrician’s awareness?