Learn if your baby’s unusual movements could be the result of acid reflux or something more serious
Becoming a parent brings indescribable joy, but it also comes with a multitude of concerns and questions, especially when it’s your first baby. From feeding schedules to sleep patterns, every little detail about your infant can become a point of scrutiny.
One issue that can be a source of significant concern is when a baby starts having unusual postures or making abrupt movements that look like seizures. While these symptoms can understandably be unsettling, they could be signs of Sandifer syndrome, a relatively rare but treatable condition that’s related to digestion.
This article will discuss Sandifer syndrome symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as how it differs from other conditions that may initially appear similar.
What is Sandifer syndrome?
Sandifer syndrome in infants is a rare medical condition associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Infants with this syndrome often exhibit abnormal postures and movements alongside typical symptoms of GERD, such as spitting up, irritability and poor feeding.
The unusual movements may include arching the back, twisting the neck, and tilting the head, which are thought to be the infant’s way of alleviating the discomfort or pain caused by reflux.
Is Sandifer syndrome the same as a seizure?
No, Sandifer syndrome is not the same as a seizure. The abnormal movements observed in infants with Sandifer syndrome are merely a physical reaction to the discomfort they experience from acid reflux.
Seizures, on the other hand, are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can manifest in a variety of ways, including convulsions, loss of consciousness, and other altered behaviors or sensations. Seizures are not typically associated with GERD or digestive issues.
How do I know if my baby has Sandifer’s syndrome?
If you suspect your baby has Sandifer syndrome, it’s crucial to consult with their pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Some common signs to look for include:
- Arching the back during or after feeding
- Tilting or twisting the head and neck
- Unexplained irritability or discomfort, particularly after feeding
- Frequent spitting up or vomiting
- Sudden or unusual eye movements
Is Sandifer syndrome serious?
Sandifer syndrome itself is generally not considered a serious or life-threatening condition, but it can be distressing for both the infant and the parents.
Since the abnormal postures and movements associated with Sandifer syndrome are usually the infant’s way of coping with the discomfort or pain from GERD, when GERD is effectively managed, the symptoms of Sandifer syndrome typically improve.
Untreated GERD can lead to complications such as esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), failure to thrive, and respiratory problems, so it’s essential to have your child evaluated by their pediatrician for a diagnosis and treatment if symptoms of Sandifer syndrome or GERD are observed.
How is Sandifer syndrome diagnosed?
A health care provider may recommend a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions that may present similar symptoms, such as seizures. Some of these tests might include:
- Ultrasound or X-rays. Imaging studies like an esophagram (barium swallow) can rule out anatomical abnormalities that might be causing the symptoms.
- pH monitoring. This test measures the acidity in the esophagus to evaluate for GERD.
- Neurological evaluations. Tests such as an EEG (electroencephalogram) may be performed to rule out seizure disorders or other neurological conditions.
- Endoscopy. This procedure involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera down the throat to check for GERD or other digestive issues.
How do you treat Sandifer syndrome in babies?
Management usually involves treating the underlying GERD through dietary changes, such as adjusting feeding schedules or changing formulas, and medications like antacids or proton pump inhibitors. In most cases, as the GERD is treated, the postures and movements seen in Sandifer syndrome also improve.
Is Sandifer’s syndrome a type of birth injury?
No, Sandifer syndrome is not a type of birth injury. However, some of the symptoms of Sandifer syndrome, such as abnormal postures or movements, can be similar to certain birth injuries that affect neuromuscular function. This resemblance can sometimes lead to diagnostic confusion, making it essential to consult health care professionals for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
What birth injuries might be misdiagnosed as Sandifer syndrome?
The most obvious type of birth injury that could be mistaken for Sandifer syndrome is a seizure. Both conditions involve atypical movements and postures, which can make initial identification challenging without a proper medical evaluation.
Seizures in infants can occur as a result of birth injuries, particularly those that lead to oxygen deprivation and brain damage, which can manifest as seizures soon after birth or in the weeks that follow. Other issues that could lead to seizures include severe jaundice that goes untreated, intracranial hemorrhage, or trauma sustained during a difficult or prolonged labor or delivery, all of which are considered birth injuries.
Other birth injuries that might be misdiagnosed as Sandifer syndrome include:
- Brachial plexus injuries. These injuries involve damage to the network of nerves controlling the muscles of the shoulder, arm and hand. Abnormal movements or postures in an attempt to compensate for pain or limited range of motion could be mistaken for Sandifer syndrome.
- Erb’s palsy. This is a specific type of brachial plexus injury that affects the upper arm and may cause abnormal arm postures, potentially leading to a misdiagnosis.
- Klumpke’s palsy. Another type of brachial plexus injury, this affects the lower arm and hand, sometimes resulting in abnormal postures.
- Cerebral palsy. Characterized by motor function abnormalities, cerebral palsy can manifest in various types of abnormal movements or postures, which could be confused with Sandifer syndrome’s symptoms.
- Spinal cord injuries. Damage to the spinal cord during birth can occur because of a breech birth, shoulder dystocia, cephalopelvic disproportion, or the inappropriate use of assistive devices during delivery. Spinal cord damage can lead to a range of motor function abnormalities, which could be mistaken for Sandifer syndrome.
It’s crucial to consult health care professionals for an accurate diagnosis, as proper identification of the underlying issue is essential for effective treatment.
These common preventable medical mistakes can happen before, during or shortly after birth and often lead to birth injuries.
Is Sandifer syndrome genetic?
While gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can run in families, suggesting a potential genetic predisposition to digestive issues, Sandifer syndrome itself is not typically attributed to genetic factors. It’s more often a symptom or complication arising from GERD or other gastrointestinal issues rather than a condition that’s inherited.
Can reflux cause developmental delays?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease itself is generally not directly associated with developmental delays in children. However, severe or untreated GERD can lead to a range of issues that could indirectly affect a child’s development, such as:
- Poor weight gain. Consistent reflux can lead to feeding difficulties, which may result in poor weight gain and nutritional deficiencies. Adequate nutrition is crucial for normal development.
- Sleep disturbances. The discomfort caused by reflux can interfere with sleep quality, and sleep is essential for proper cognitive and physical development.
- Respiratory issues. In some cases, severe GERD can lead to respiratory problems like aspiration pneumonia, which could result in hospitalizations or medical treatments that might disrupt normal development.
- Emotional and behavioral issues. The ongoing discomfort and medical interventions associated with severe reflux can create stress or anxiety for the child, which could potentially impact emotional development.
It’s essential to note that while GERD can be a significant issue, proper diagnosis and treatment often manage the symptoms effectively, reducing or eliminating any potential impacts on development.
Is reflux in babies linked to autism?
The short answer is no. Gastroesophageal reflux and autism are distinct, unrelated conditions. Having GERD does not mean a child will develop autism, nor does having autism cause GERD.
However, it’s worth noting that although GERD itself doesn’t cause autism, digestive discomfort from conditions like GERD may make behavioral issues in a child who already has autism worse, potentially making it harder to self-regulate and increasing tantrums.
Are you worried that your child’s symptoms could be the result of a birth injury? Brown Trial Firm can help you find the answers you’re looking for.
If you suspect your child is experiencing symptoms of Sandifer syndrome, take comfort in knowing that, in most cases, the condition can be easily managed without any long-lasting repercussions. However, if you have concerns that your child’s symptoms might be related to a birth injury, it’s crucial to seek the advice of a birth injury lawyer who can evaluate your child’s case and determine if legal action is appropriate.
The experienced birth injury attorneys at Brown Trial Firm can assist you in navigating this complex legal process, helping you get the answers you need and the compensation your child deserves. Don’t hesitate to take action; your child’s well-being is far too important to leave to chance.
Contact Brown Trial Firm today for a free consultation to get started.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma
- Neonatal Intracranial Hemorrhage (Childbirth Brain Bleeds)
- Hydrocephalus (Extra Fluid in the Brain Cavity)
- Cervical Dystonia
- Hemiplegia (Brain or Spinal Cord Injury)
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Neonatal Stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) Brain Injury
- Infant Seizures
- Spastic Diplegia (Spasticity in the Legs)
- Top Risks for Birth Injuries
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- G-Tubes for Newborns
- Medical Errors
- Cesarean Section & Birth Injury
- Negligence in Brain Cooling Treatment
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Transition From Pediatric to Adult Healthcare
- Surgical Options for Spastic Cerebral Palsy
- Fetal Intolerance to Labor
- Jaundice (Kernicterus)
- Breech Position
- Placental Complications
- Placental Problems
- Umbilical Cord Problems
- Uterine Rupture
- Cervical Incompetence (Insufficiency)
- Blighted Ovum
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) - Intestinal Inflammation
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Amniotic Fluid Embolism
- Birth Injury from Premature Delivery
- Developmental Delays
- Abnormal Cord Insertion
- Infections at Birth
- Chorioamnionitis Bacterial Infection
- Premature birth
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Birth-Acquired Herpes
- Placenta Previa
- Placental Abruption
- Mismanaged Fetal Malposition
- Rapid Labor
- Obesity Related Birth Injuries
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Blood Clots During Pregnancy
- Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis
- Myths & Facts About Birth Injuries
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Gestational Diabetes
- Maternal Mortality Risk
- Oligohydramnios (Low Amniotic Fluid)
- Infections During Pregnancy
- Excessive Bleeding During Pregnancy