A relation was found between persistent stridor and gastroesophageal reflux in seven infants, aged 6 weeks to 6 months. Stridor began at 11 days to 2 months of age, and four of the seven infants had transient hypercarbia on at least one occasion before study. Only one had a history of frequent vomiting; three had recurrent pneumonia. Midesophageal pH, chest and abdominal movement, exhaled carbon dioxide partial pressure, and heart rate of six of the infants were recorded for 4 to 12 hours as they slept. Esophageal pH of the seventh infant was recorded for 24 hours. In the six completely studied infants, there were persistent increases of greater than 10 mm Hg in exhaled carbon dioxide level (three infants), of greater than 10 breaths per minute in respiratory rate (four infants), and in retractions and stridor (six infants) 5 to 20 minutes after onset of reflux. Stridor improved with medical management in 48 hours (five of five infants) and disappeared in 3 weeks (three of five infants) to 2 months (one of five infants). One of these medically treated infants subsequently was treated by Nissen gastric fundoplication because of a recurrence of persistent and severe stridor. Three infants had antireflux surgery, and in two of these stridor disappeared in 48 hours. In the third infant stridor disappeared 3 weeks after surgery. Based on this experience, reflux occasionally causes stridor, probably because of acute inflammation of the upper airway. If structural anomalies are ruled out, infants with severe stridor should be examined for gastroesophageal reflux.
- Received March 22, 1989.
- Accepted June 30, 1989.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Academy of Pediatrics