Rumination disorder is an eating disorder in which a baby brings back up and re-chews food that has already been swallowed. The re-chewed food may be swallowed again or the baby may spit it out. To be considered a disorder, this behavior must occur in children who had previously been eating normally, and it must happen regularly for at least 1 month.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. For some children, the act of chewing is comforting. Infants who are neglected, abused, or ill may develop this behavior. It may be a way for the child to gain attention.
Some infants may make unusual movements. These include straining and arching the back, holding the head back, tightening the abdominal muscles, and making sucking movements with the mouth.
Regurgitation begins within minutes of a meal and may last for several hours. It happens almost every day after most meals. Regurgitation seems effortless and rarely causes retching.
Your healthcare provider may do X-rays and blood tests to check for physical causes for the vomiting. The healthcare provider may also want to observe the infant during and after feeding.
Treatment mainly focuses on changing the child's behavior. This may involve:
In most cases, babies with this disorder will outgrow the behavior and return to eating normally. For older children, this disorder can continue for months.