Projectile Vomiting In Infants: Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Most infants are known to expel some amount of gastric content in the form of vomit occasionally. But they remain healthy otherwise. Even if parents find infant vomiting to be inconvenient, they usually bear it as they are aware it will stop as the infants grows. Generally it does not require any treatment.

However, parents should also know that it can be an indication of some medical issue, especially if there is projectile vomiting. It is necessary to know different forms of vomiting in infants, so that parents can differentiate between a normal vomit an abnormal one.

Types Of Vomiting In Babies

Vomiting in infants can be of different types;

  • Reflux: In gastroesophageal reflux, the valve which does not allow the backup of gastric content into the esophagus in not well developed. As a result some amount of gastric content may come back in the esophagus and expelled out. Reflux is common in infants and it stops as the infant grows.
  • Possetting: A small amount of milk is expelled out after each feed, which looks like curd. It is normal; you may observe it in many babies after they feed. The baby is active, and no other symptoms are present.
    Such type is called possetting.
  • Projectile vomiting: It is a type of vigorous vomiting where the stomach content is forcefully ejected out from the mouth, the vomit may form the shape similar to an arch. If projectile vomiting occurs continuously, it is a sign of some serious medical ailment.

Causes Of Infant Projectile Vomiting

The conditions that can cause projectile vomiting include; obstruction of intestinal tract, pyloric stenosis, infection and injury to head. Let us take the common cause first.

  • Infection: often viral-gastroenteritis or stomach flu as it is known to cause projectile vomiting along with other symptoms such as diarrhea and fever. The disease may begin only with projectile vomiting in the beginning and diarrhea may follow in the later stage. Besides, projectile vomiting can be a symptom of meningitis. It is a serious infection of brain where the meninges (sheath covering the brain) becomes inflamed due to virus or bacterial infection. This condition needs urgent medical treatment.
  • Pyloric stenosis: pyloric valve is a ring of muscle situated in the lower end of stomach and the beginning of the intestine. This valve contracts and relaxes to pass the gastric content from stomach into the intestine from time to time. However, under some circumstances the valve remains partially or completely contracted without relaxing. The food is unable to pass further leading to projectile vomiting. The infant cries incessantly. The baby stops taking his feed. He looks unwell and dehydrated. The infant does not put on weight. It is usually seen in infants one or two months after the birth.
  • Intussusception a type of intestinal obstruction can give rise to projectile vomiting in an infant.
  • Injury to head: infant should be carefully monitored, if there is history of fall or an injury to the head. Swelling or formation of hematoma in the brain can give rise to projectile vomiting as one of the prime symptom. Projectile vomiting occurs continuously in such circumstances, and not one or two.

Symptoms And Treatment Of Projectile Vomiting

The forceful projection of stomach content is the main feature of projectile vomiting. The baby vomits almost everything that is fed, either food or fluid. If it occurs persistently with other symptoms described below, the baby needs urgent medical attention.

  • Continuous crying.
  • Refuses feeding.
  • Streak of blood with forceful vomit.
  • Stiffness of neck.
  • Green colored vomit.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Dehydration.
  • The baby appears toxic and listless.

Projectile Vomiting In Infants Treatment

If the baby is having projectile vomiting it is necessary to consult a pediatrician as soon as possible. The doctor will try to find the cause after examination and proper medical history. He may advice for certain tests such as blood test and sonogram. If projectile vomiting is continuous, the baby may require intravenous administration of fluid, this requires hospital admission. Or if the baby has intermittent vomiting episodes, he may try to control vomiting with the help of drugs. In case of infection he may also prescribe antibiotics.

When the cause of projectile vomiting is intestinal obstruction or pyloric stenosis, surgical intervention becomes necessary.