Projectile Vomiting in Infants
Most of us are familiar with the fact that infants vomit or spit up occasionally,
especially during or after baby feeding. It is a common occurrence and parents
do not worry about it, even though it can be very inconvenient for them. However,
in some infants, vomiting can be a cause of worry. For example, projectile
vomiting in infants can be dangerous, as it can be an indication of some serious
medical condition. Parents must have a basic idea about the different types of
vomiting in infants, in order to differentiate between them and identify projectile
vomiting in infants. Scroll down to know more about infants projectile vomiting
and causes of projectile vomiting in infants.
Types of Vomiting in Infants
As mentioned earlier, vomiting can be of three types, as far as infants are
concerned. It can be reflux, possetting and projectile vomiting. The first type,
called reflux, occurs when the valve that controls the entry of the food from the
esophagus to the stomach opens and allows the contents in the stomach to
come out through the mouth. This reflux is common in infants and they outgrow
this condition as they become toddlers. Possetting is another common type of
vomiting in infants, wherein the babies vomit small amounts of food ingested,
right after the feeding. The most severe among the three types is projectile
vomiting, which is the forceful expulsion of food consumed by the baby. The
following paragraph can provide you with more details about projectile vomiting in
What is Projectile Vomiting in Infants?
As mentioned earlier, projectile vomiting can be differentiated from other types by
the forceful expulsion of food, that too in considerable amounts. In case of
projectile vomiting, the vomit is expelled with force, so that it forms an arc shape.
It is more common in infants, but can be seen in adults too. Occasional projectile
vomiting in infants is considered as normal, but when it happens regularly, it can
be an indication of some other serious medical condition. Both breast-fed babies
and bottle-fed babies are prone to this condition. If your baby is showing the
following symptoms along with projectile vomiting, you have to consult a
pediatrician at the earliest:
Presence of bile or blood in the vomit
The baby looks unwell or seems in pain
Coughing or choking spells
The following are some of the causes of projectile vomiting in infants.
Causes of Projectile Vomiting in Infants
The most common cause for projectile vomiting in babies is gastroesophageal
reflex, which is also the cause for ordinary reflux. This is due to the improper
working of the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, which prevents
the backward flow of stomach contents. The acid in the stomach can irritate the
esophagus and the throat. So, breastfeeding is recommended for such infants.
Usually, treatment is not given as the babies outgrow this condition with age. In
some infants, milk allergy can be the reason for projectile vomiting. Read more
on milk allergy in toddlers.
More serious causes of projectile vomiting in infants include stomach flu or
gastroenteritis, which is an intestinal infection caused by a virus. Another serious
medical condition associated with projectile vomiting in infants is pyloric stenosis,
which is the thickening of the muscle (pylorus muscle) that is located at the lower
section of the stomach, where it opens to the small intestine. An infant with such
enlarged pylorus muscle prevents the food in the stomach to enter the small
intestine. This causes projectile vomiting right after feeding or after several hours
of feeding. The symptoms of this condition include refusal to eat food, constant
crying, wheezing, slow weight gain, dehydration due to vomiting, etc. Studies
show that three out of every 1000 infants are affected by this condition, which is
more prevalent in males. This condition develops after four to six weeks of birth.
This condition is treated with pyloromyotomy, a surgery performed to relieve the
obstruction. In some infants, projectile vomiting is caused by congenital
abnormalities of the intestinal tract.
Now you know more about the types of vomiting in infants and the causes of
projectile vomiting. Occasional projectile vomiting is not a cause of worry, but if it
is persistent, it can cause dehydration, fever, injury to the esophagus and
stomach, slow growth rate, and sometimes, pneumonia as well. Hence, it is
necessary to take your baby to the pediatrician at the earliest. If the doctor rules
out any serious reason for this condition, you can try the following measures to
prevent projectile vomiting. Feed the baby with small amounts of food, but
increase the frequency of the feeding. The baby should be in an upright position
while feeding and for at least twenty minutes after feeding. Gently pat on the
baby's back frequently while feeding, so that he burps. This reduces the gastric
pressure in the stomach, which is a cause of vomiting. Minimize vigorous
movements of the baby after feeding and elevate the head of the baby's bed at
Projectile vomiting in infants should be monitored and care must be taken to
avoid such situations from occurring. In case of such occurrences, it is advisable
to consult a pediatrician immediately.