Sandifer's syndrome & acid reflux in infants

Written by bridget coila
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Sandifer's syndrome & acid reflux in infants
Babies with acid reflux will not appear happy. (Image by, courtesy of Conor Ogle)

Babies often spit up after eating, but frequent, painful bouts of bringing up ingested food could be a sign of acid reflux or its more serious version, Sandifer's syndrome.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, sometimes called gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD), is common in adults, but sometimes also occurs in infants. GERD occurs when the infant's stomach contents come back up into the oesophagus and out the mouth frequently and painfully.


If left untreated, acid reflux in infants can cause many complications, including an aversion to eating, failure to thrive, sleep apnoea and difficulty swallowing.

Sandifer's Syndrome

Sandifer's syndrome is a serious variant of acid reflux in which the baby's body reacts violently to his acid reflux episodes. It is characterised by neck extension, back arching, turning of the head and general seizure-like appearance.


Babies with acid reflux and Sandifer's syndrome will likely be prescribed medication to prevent or reduce their GERD episodes. This can include infant-sized dosages of common GERD medications such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors.


Most instances of spit up and vomiting in babies are not a sign of acid reflux or Sandifer's syndrome. These diseases are rare. However, if you have concerns about the frequency of your baby's spit up or if she seems to experience pain along with episodes, contact your baby's doctor.

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