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RE1: Genetics & Reflux

Uncategorized Dec 21, 2018

The first 2 elements in the reflux equation are genetics. Those of both mum and dad. If you don't know already, then reflux is a symptom. And as such it has a cause. {read this link for the causes of reflux}


So how do genetics play their part?


From a gene point of view, the most interesting one is the MTHFR (no - not shorthand for mother-f****r although it can be cathartic to shout it out loud now and again!).


Really simply put, this gene governs things that run down the midline of the body - the neural tube. So things like spinal development. Importantly for babies with reflux is that it is within the expression of this gene were we find lip and tongue ties.


So if dad, or mum’s mum has a tie, then the chances of baby having a tie are increased by 30%. And tongue ties cause latch difficulties for baby so are really important to get resolved if present. [Read more on tongue tie here]

There are some other genetic factors that can contribute to reflux:

  • Cleft lip and or cleft palette - as these pose challenges for babies to latch to either bottle or breast, again, causing air to be swallowed and reflux to be an issue.

  • Congenital Lactase Deficiency - this is a genetic discorder where baby lacks the ability to produce lactase and so cannot breakdown the lactase in any milk - mums or others. It is important to distinguish between this and the general term “lactose intolerance” because in the second case, baby is able to digest mums milk, but not the more complex beta-lactose in cows milk. Because not all lactose is the same.

  • Galatosaemia - this is an extremely rare condition that is typically picked up within hours of birth. Babies with this have an inability to breakdown the galactose in milk and need an extremely modified milk to survive.

That something is “genetic” does not mean that we have to put up with it, it doesn’t mean that we cannot change it. In fact in most cases we can influence it massively.


With lip and tongue ties, we can cut them (see videos and blogs on these), and it is really important that for your kids kids, that they know they had a tie cut...


Because genetics are only 20% of it.


Epigenetics are the over 80%. And this is good news. This means that we have more chance of influencing how the genes are expressed by influencing their environment.... and this is a lot about food choices and our environment.


Related Posts

This is just one of a series explaining the entire Reflux Equation. Have a look at the other posts written so far.

  1. Overview

  2. Genetics

  3. Pregnancy

  4. Birth

  5. Crying

Remember, all you need to know to figure out what’s causing your baby’s discomfort and pain can be found in my book (the Baby Reflux Lady’s Survival Guide) along with what to do to try and improve or even resolve your baby’s reflux depending on the cause of the individual baby’s troubles.


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