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gerdHas your child’s stomach been upsetting her more than usual? It could be acid refux, also called gastroesophageal refux disease (GERD)—a regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. It often occurs in infants (it’s what causes babies to spit up so frequently in their frst year), and while most kids outgrow it by the time they turn 3, frequency can start to rise again at age 5, depending on diet and genetics, says J. Antonio Quiros, M.D., division chief for pediatric gastroenterology at the Medical University of South Carolina. The good news? Tere are ways to help ease your child’s discomfort before it becomes chronic. Here’s how:

AVOID TRIGGERS The most common cause of acid reflux is diet and lifestyle, says Quiros, but it can vary, especially in kids, so first, be sure to see your pediatrician. She may suggest medication to suppress acid production in the stomach—this tends to help most and be safest in the short term, says Quiros. To help in the long term, though, the best thing is to change your child’s habits. Two ways to do that: Don’t have him eat right before bed (try to leave at least two hours between the last meal and bedtime), and cut out greasy or heavy foods—these sit in the belly longer, causing the stomach to produce more acid and the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which means more refux of that acid. Avoid acidic foods like orange juice and tomatoes, as well as some other less obvious triggers, like carbonated beverages, chocolate, peppermint oil, and sweet and spicy peppers, says Quiros.

BALANCING ACT As you start to implement these diet changes, your child may still continue to experience discomfort. A simple mixture of one tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey in a glass of water should help calm refux experienced after eating, says Douglas Willen, a nutritionist in New York City and author of Quantum Paleo. Or, add 1⁄8 teaspoon of baking soda to an all-natural fruit juice—this will help balance the pH in your child’s digestive tract and relieve symptoms.

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