Parents should always seek medical advice if they are worried in any way about their infant, or themselves. In relation to gastro-oesophageal reflux, parents should especially seek medical advice if:

Their infant or child

  • is very irritable, cries excessively or is inconsolable
  • appears to be in pain
  • does not sleep well and is easily disturbed
  • has weight loss or poor weight gain
  • develops hoarseness
  • appears to be refluxing frequently

Their child complains of (NASPGHAN, 2004)

  • food/fluid coming into the back of their throat or mouth
  • heartburn or pain in the stomach or chest area
  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • food getting stuck

Their infant or child’s vomiting

  • is of large volume
  • is frequent
  • is increasing in amount
  • is forceful
  • contains coffee ground-like material or is black, red or brown
  • is green or yellow

With feeding, their infant or child

  • refuses to eat/feed
  • pulls off the bottle or breast; or frequently interrupts the feed
  • is difficult to reattach to the breast or bottle
  • arches their back, draws their legs up or screams
  • is fussy or sensitive to different textures
  • chokes or gags
  • complains of pain (NDDIC, 2006)

Their infant or child has chest issues

  • any increased breathing effort, particularly after vomiting (NDDIC, 2006) or during or after eating
  • repeated coughing
  • wheezing
  • repeated chest infections or pneumonia
  • apnoeas (breathing stops temporarily)
  • cyanosis (turns blue) or colour changes (pale or blue) around their mouth or face

Either partner feels

  • distressed
  • overtired and exhausted
  • confused about how to manage their child
  • lacking support
  • socially isolated because of their child’s behaviour
  • depressed or feeling down/negative
  • not eating
  • not sleeping
  • not coping
  • excessively weepy
  • worried that they might harm their child or themselves

RISA Checklist for medical consultations (Word)
RISA Checklist for medical consultations (pdf)

This checklist does not offer a medical diagnosis, but rather assists parents to record their concerns and provide a framework for a productive discussion with their medical professionals.

Download printable version of When to Seek Medical Advice

Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families© Written by RISA Inc, revised by Glenda Blanch, RISA Inc member and author of “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families” 2010

Additional information on gastro-oesophageal reflux is provided in our book “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families”.

Works Cited

NASPGHAN. (2004, May 11). Parent’s Take Home Guide to GERD. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition:

NDDIC. (2006, August). Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children and Adolescents. Retrieved March 28, 2008, from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse:

NDDIC. (2006, August). Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants. Retrieved March 28, 2008, from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: