Does Positioning Help Infants with Reflux?

IM Paul et al. JPGN Reports 2023; 4(2):p e312. Open Access! Pilot Study of Inclined Position and Infant Gastroesophageal Reflux Indicators

Methods: Healthy infants aged 1–5 months with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (N = 25) and controls (N = 10) were enrolled into one post-feed observation. Infants were monitored in a prototype reclining device for consecutive 15-minute periods in supine position with head elevations of 0°, 10°, 18°, and 28° in random order. Continuous pulse oximetry assessed hypoxia (O2 saturation <94%) and bradycardia (heart rate <100).

Key findings:

  • Overall, 17 (68%) infants had 80 episodes of hypoxia (median 20 seconds duration), 13 (54%) had 33 episodes of bradycardia (median 22 seconds duration), and 15 (60%) had 28 episodes of regurgitation.
  • For all 3 outcomes, incident rate ratios were not significantly different between positions, and no differences were discovered for observed symptoms or infant comfort.

Limitations: This was a one-feeding study with a small number of infants

My take: This study shows a high frequency of transient hypoxia and bradycardia in healthy infants with regurgitation. In addition, there was not improvement in reflux parameters in the inclined position.

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