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What are the Common Causes of Hiccups in Babies?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Hiccups in babies are a common occurrence, and usually nothing for parents to be concerned about. Hiccups in newborns usually occur when too much air is swallowed during a feeding. Very frequent hiccups in babies could also possibly be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Certain foods and drinks are also thought to cause hiccups, and some researchers also believe that temperature changes or excitement can also cause hiccups.

The most common cause of hiccups in newborns is air swallowed when the baby is eating. This generally occurs more in bottle-fed babies and babies who try to feed too quickly. These types of hiccups can be prevented by switching to a baby bottle nipple with a slower flow, which will cause a baby to swallow more slowly. Monitoring the bottle during feeding to ensure the baby is not swallowing too much air can also help.

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close like it should. This allows the acidic stomach contents to re-enter the esophagus. Hiccups in babies with GERD are very common, and many times these hiccups will happen at least once per day. Other symptoms of this disorder include frequent vomiting up or spitting up, irritability while feeding or not wanting to eat at all, and waking up frequently at night, often in pain.

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Smaller feedings given more frequently can help relieve the symptoms of GERD in some babies. Also, elevating the baby's head while he is sleeping or napping can help prevent the stomach contents from moving back into the esophagus. While these techniques often help relieve symptoms, such as hiccups in babies, more severe cases of this disorder may require medication or even surgery.

Some drinks and foods can cause hiccups in adults as well as hiccups in babies. Carbonated beverages and spicy foods or drinks should not be given to infants, since they can possibly cause hiccups, along with other health problems. Drinks that are too hot or too cold may also cause hiccups in babies, children, and some adults.

Some studies also show that a drastic temperature change may also be another cause of hiccups in babies. If an infant gets too cold, he could possibly develop hiccups. Hiccups in babies can also be caused by excitement or nervousness.

Most hiccups are harmless, but sometimes they may make a baby fussier than usual. Patting a baby on his back may cause the air trapped in his stomach to come up and the hiccups to stop. A feeding of warm milk or formula may also help, and some pediatricians recommend gripe water for babies with frequent hiccups.

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