Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Is reflux Genetic?

I just came back from a wonderful family reunion. I have a big family so we rented a camp in rural Connecticut for a weekend of stories, memories and of course great food! We can’t help but notice how “related” we all are. When we are all together, we can see how much little Emma looks just like her mom and her grandma. Some of us got the curly hair and blue eyes while others got the beautiful brown eyes. I can see a definite allergy connection in our family. The test was who could stay in the dusty, musty cabins and who needed the filtered air of the hotel down the road!

A few years ago, PAGER Association families started telling us about their family reunions. When the clan gathered, they realized just how many members were affected by Gastroesophageal reflux. When mom came to the reunion with the big spit rag and bag of special formula, cousins and aunts shared similar stories about their offspring. We heard about triplets with reflux and four siblings in one family with reflux. Parents even told us how multiple generations of families had really severe cases of reflux including esophageal cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus.

Beth Anderson, Executive Director of PAGER Association started asking doctors if reflux was genetic. It took a few years to convince a group of researchers to study the genetics of reflux and in 2000; a genetic marker for Severe Gastroesophageal Reflux was identified. There is a great need for more research on the genetics of reflux. We still don’t know why reflux is so common in infants and it is outgrown in the first year or two of life. We wonder why pediatric acid reflux seems to be on the rise and affects as many as 5-7 million children in the United States. We wonder why certain countries such as Australia and Great Britain contact PAGER Association in great numbers. When we attend medical conferences, the physicians from Mexico tell us there are many families affected by reflux.

If your family reunions are full of good times and conversations about Uncle Fred’s digestive system, be sure to contact the researchers at Allegheny Hospital in Pennsylvania. There is an ongoing research study on the genetics of pediatric acid reflux. If you chose to participate in the study, you will be asked to complete a phone interview and submit a saliva sample. You can do all of this from home-no travel is required.
Call 888-887-7729 for information.


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