SEATTLE – Researchers at the Seattle Children’s Hospital found a link between bottle feeding and a type of infant stomach obstruction that results in projectile vomiting.
The study, recently published in JAMA Pediatrics compared 714 infants who developed hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (HPS) to 7,140 “control” babies who did not develop the obstruction.
HPS is fairly common, affecting about three in 1,000 babies in the United States, according to Seattle Children's Hospital. It is about four times more likely to occur in firstborn infant boys and occurs more commonly in Caucasian infants than in babies of other ethnic backgrounds.
The obstruction affects the gastrointestinal tract during infancy and can cause a baby to vomit forcefully. It occurs when the muscles in pylorus become so enlarged that food is prevented from emptying out of the stomach.
The only solution is surgery to cut the muscle so it will relax and allow food to pass, according to Dr. Jarod McAteer, a surgery research fellow at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
"Usually in the first couple of weeks of life, they are completely normal, healthy babies," McAteer said. "Then they start vomiting and it progressively gets worst over a period of several days until they can't hold anything down."
The recent study found that bottle feeding was twice as common among the babies who developed the obstruction. The rate rose to 10 to 15 per 1,000 births when the mother is older and the baby is bottle fed.
The study was a topic of discussion on NBC’s TODAY mom’s blog this week.