Pyloric Stenosis — Avoiding Inevitable Surgery?

Many babies spit up. A few, though, gradually eject larger quantities of breastmilk or formula until they are barely keeping anything down. This can be caused by a condition called pyloric stenosis, where the muscular valve at the base of the stomach grows too tight to allow milk to pass.

In the United States, pyloric stenosis is corrected with surgery.

A fascinating article in the October 2001 issue of Indian Pediatrics describes what happened when 52 babies were treated with atropine instead. Atropine is an ancient medicine that can relax spasms in smooth muscles. Used incorrectly, it can be a poison. But it is also a powerful antidote (in nerve gas attacks, for instance).

In fifty of the babies in the study (96.2%), the pyloric stenosis resolved with the medicine alone. The other 2 babies improved, but still needed surgery. No side effects interrupted the treatment in any of the babies.

Atropine may prove to be a safe, effective, cheap, non-invasive alternative to surgery.

Published on: November 05, 2001
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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