Sandifer's Syndrome

Sandifer's syndrome was named after the neurologist Paul Sandifer and M. Kinsbourne in 1962. They noticed and association to whole body movements and the upper gastrointestinal tract with neurological manifestations occurring in children and adolescents. It is a combination of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease with spastic torticollis and dystonic body movements with or without hiatal hernia. The theory is that the positioning of the head provides relief from abdominal discomfort caused by acid reflux.

You can recognize it by:

  • Head arching.
  • Back arching.
  • The child’s head and neck may rotate to one side and the legs and feet to the other.
  • The child may look stiff.
  • May have periods of crying, less commonly they may also go very quiet.
  • Dis-positioning of the arms and torso.
  • Rolling eyes into, what seems the back of the head (opisthotonos).

Sandifer Syndrome is considered a pediatric disorder. In the infant reflux world we consider it to be reflux taken to the next level, a neurological one. Most parents get scared to death once they notice it because it can resemble seizure like symptoms. Please don't panic! This is not a life threatening event although it can look very concerning.

If it is Sandifer's the good news is a neurological exam show that no neurological condition is causing the reaction. Unfortunately the reaction is caused by PAIN! So to get rid of the pain you should treat the reflux and under the guidance of a doctor that specializes in infant acid reflux.

Once you treat the reflux, the Sandifer's will go away and your baby will be happy and smiling.

Back to Infant GERD Symptoms

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