Dr Murtuza Khan, Consultant Paediatrician & Specialist in Respiratory Disorders of Children, The Portland Hospital
Q. Is it normal for my baby to get hiccups all the time?
A. Hiccups (hiccough) are very common in infancy especially in the first few weeks of life. It is a reflex caused by sudden movement of air during inspiration through closed or closing vocal cords. Very little is known as to what triggers this reflex, and unlike other protective reflexes, like coughing, there seems to be no physiological benefit to the body. Some of the triggers include overfeeding and swallowing too much air with feeds, which directly distends the part of the stomach adjacent to the diaphragm. Gastro-oesophageal reflux can also cause hiccups through unknown mechanisms. The clue to this possibility would be, amongst others, tendency to effortless vomiting in the first few months of life, being irritable, sleeping poorly, arching of the neck and discomfort when lying flat. By themselves, however, hiccups are almost always benign and very rarely signify serious long-term problems. Most episodes occur in normally fed babies, last not more than 10-15 minutes and do not normally warrant healthcare referral. Prolonged episodes especially if associated with other symptoms, as with gastro-oesophageal reflux, are worthy of an assessment.
For further information or to book an appointment please contact Dr Khan’s secretary.
Telephone: 0207 079 4344 / 07584 136 424
Fax: 020 8869 3477