Supraesophageal complications of gastroesophageal reflux in children: challenges in diagnosis and treatment.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs throughout the day in healthy infants, children, and adolescents, as well as in adults. However, regurgitation into the pharynx and vomiting are more common in infants than in adults. This places the infant at particular risk for supraesophageal complications of GER. Despite recognition of this risk, a lack of good control data in children and an absence of placebo-controlled treatment trials provide only marginal evidence to support GER as a cause of any supraesophageal disorder in infants or children. An association of GER with "awake apnea," reactive airway disease, and recurrent pneumonia has been demonstrated. Although there is no good evidence to support the efficacy of medical therapy, surgical therapy for GER has been demonstrated to improve symptoms in selected cases with each of these symptom presentations. Although clinical experience and case series suggest that GER may possibly contribute to laryngeal disorders, sinusitis, and otitis media, convincing data are lacking. No studies have definitively demonstrated symptom improvement with medical or surgical therapy for the latter symptom presentations.
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