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May 02, 2016

Newborns may be getting over-diagnosed with gastric reflux disease

Thomas Jefferson University study shows that only 10 percent of babies with symptoms actually have the disorder

Newborn babies are likely being over-treated for gastric reflux disease, according to new research from Thomas Jefferson University.

As a result, some babies may be getting risky treatment, including drugs and surgery, for a disorder they do not have.

Researchers examined data on 58 infants who appeared to be showing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. One sign of GERD is vomiting combined with low heart rate, coughing or incessant crying.

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However, when researchers applied a more thorough test for gastric reflux disease, only six of the babies were found to actually have it.

Senior author Zubair Aghai said that more doctors should use the test, known as MII-pH, but that isn't happening because it requires some advanced training.

"The study suggests that doctors who suspect infants of having GERD should use the MII-pH to confirm the diagnosis before treating with medications or surgery," Aghai said.

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