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  • Post last modified:January 6, 2021
  • Post comments:12 Comments

baby vomits then passes out

Mom’s Question:
My 3-week old baby vomits then passes out and becomes limp immediately for about 1-2 minutes, he has done this 5 times.

We took him to the hospital, but got different answers from different student doctors there, I wanted an experienced one, but my pediatrician was not affiliated with the hospital, so I didn’t have a choice.

When he was released one doc said it was reflux. He also has eosinophilia and docs don’t know why he has it either. Has anyone had this happen or anyone know what it could possibly be, I’m at my wit’s end. Thank you for any help.


Baby Helpline:

Baby Vomiting And Passing Out – Possible Reasons

I would keep persisting with getting good medical advice since your baby is so young. All babies vomit from time to time, and it can look like a lot when it is only a couple of teaspoonful. You didn’t say how much and how frequently your little boy vomits.

Here are some possible reasons why a baby vomits more than what would be considered normal:

Acid Reflux

Reflux (or GERD) is something babies grow out of, and is basically forceful regurgitation of excess milk, due to the muscle or valve at the entry to the esophagus still being undeveloped.

More frequent burping can help but don’t put the baby over your shoulder as this puts pressure on the tummy and he is more likely to bring up milk rather than air. Usually, your baby’s development is not affected unless your baby has very severe reflux.

You can try small feeds every two hours rather than a big feed all at once and you can also elevate the head of his crib.

Although the loss of consciousness and muscle tone may result from GERD, the situation is quite serious and should be handled professionally.

I do not know what was done for your baby in the hospital and whether the approach was correct or not, but in this case it is better to get a second opinion of an experienced and trusted doctor.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

EoE is a relatively “new” diagnosis. Babies and children that experience nausea, regurgitation, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a burning feeling similar to acid reflux (heartburn) might have EoE. They may have difficulty swallowing and gag frequently.

Infants with EoE often don’t want to breastfeed or take a bottle, and may frequently spit up and arch the back — a sign of pain.

EoE has many symptoms that are similar to acid reflux, so a doctor will first prescribe medicine for that. These medicines do not help you, so if symptoms persist despite medication, reflux isn’t the cause. It’s estimated that up to 10 percent of children diagnosed with reflux have EoE.

Quite often, the underlying cause of EoE is a food allergy. Milk, eggs, wheat, soy, beef, chicken, potato, and corn are common underlying allergies.

I don’t know if you are breastfeeding or not, but if you are, you could start with eliminating dairy from your diet (but you will need calcium supplements).

If you are bottle-feeding, then you need to get a special formula that is non-dairy and non-soy – babies with this kind of allergy also rarely tolerate soy formulas.

I find nothing about EoE and passing out, though…But since one of the doctors mentioned eosinophilia, adjusting your diet (or your son’s formula) could be worth a try.

Eosinophilic gastroenteritis

Another possibility, though rare is Eosinophilic gastroenteritis. This is a rare disease with similar symptoms as a food allergy – nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain – but without specific foods that can be eliminated.

It is diagnosed with a blood test and an intestinal biopsy and then medicated with steroids.

Good luck getting medical support, it is important you persist to get help and advice as to what is best for your baby. Try not to get too distressed with it all as your little boy will be picking up on your anxiety.

You can check out these two threads with babies that gasp or vomit:

Baby gasps when laid down

3-month-old baby won’t stop throwing up

Hope this helps,
(Answer approved by our Medical Reference Team)



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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Heidi

    My little boy is 8 weeks old. He went completely limp and was unresponsive a few days ago.

    I drove to the hospital just up the road thinking he might be dead. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. He was out for about 10 mins.

    We were sent to the Bath RUH and kept over night so they could do observations. They diagnosed him with reflux and prescribed Ranitidine.

    I have to say, I’m skeptical about the reflux thing. They did nothing to prove that this was the case. Only monitored his blood pressure, pulse and temp! 🙁

  2. Abbey

    My 1st child use to do exactly that. Very scary. Took him to royal children’s. He had many tests, like MRI etc. We were in hospital for a week.

    Finally the diagnosed it as silent reflux seizures. He was put on Losec, which helped a lot. We were then seen by the pediatrician for months to make sure he had put on weight. Very scary though.

    Good luck. I just put my 9 week old girl to bed and she vomited out her nose and mouth. Let’s hope she’s not the same.

  3. Shelby

    Hi, my 5 week old does almost this same thing.. It started a week after I got to bring her home from the nicu. We have been to the hospital three tines in the last three weeks..

    If I were you ask for a upper gi to be done and if they still insist it’s reflux tell them to do a ph probe.. I would hold off as long as possible they will have to sadate him to do that maybe ask for a EEG instead..

    My daughter has had a EEG EKG upper gi complete blood and urine work ups. I think the only difference between our situations is that my daughter does not projectile vomit.. She chokes and will go blue and sometimes go limp.. We just spent the holidays in the hospital.. We now have an app. With a gi specialist down at the children’s hospital.. If I were you I would tell your doctor to refer you to a gi as well.

    YOu should hold off as long as possible on the mri; they will have to sadate him and with how young he is that will be hard on you as well as him. You should also wait on any cat scans because his brain is still growing and they don’t know how the radiation will effect that’s development.

    I would go with the upper gi ph probe and an ultra sound. do these as well as a complete blood and urine work up those things will help them find something out. Also, could your son be constipated? They were always asking me that while we are there.

    These are some of the things we are doing at home to help with the reflux they think my daughter has:
    – Elevating her bed keeping her upright for at least 30 mins after every meal.
    -They have her on some medication and this last time they told us to never lay her flat not even while changing her or for tummy time.

    Also make sure his diaper in not tight around his tummy.

    I have been doing these things with my daughter but they don’t seem to be helping much in her case but I also don’t believe that she really does have reflux, but we continue to do them in hopes that it will help.

    I hope that your son gets better soon. I know how hopeless it feels when you don’t think the doctors are right.. I have been dealing with this for the last three weeks and my daughter does it two or three times a day on average.

    So keep your head up and if I find out anything new I will be sure to write you a comment in hopes that it helps with your son as well.

  4. Teresa

    Our one year old son has just done this twice within the last 2 weeks. He get a temp, vomits 3 or 4 times over a period of 30 mins or so then all of a sudden passes out.

    I have been to my GP, who is referring us to a pediatric specialist. So now we await tests to see if they can find out anything.

    He has never vomited like this before up to now and has never passed out for no apparent reason before either.

    Was very scary the first time it happened, but he was still breathing and eventually came to after a few minutes.
    Very horrible knowing you can do nothing about it and now just have to wait and see if they find anything.

    If anyone has had similar instances and has had results, would be very interested in hearing them.
    Thanks, Teresa

  5. Cecilia

    I had something like this happen to my son when he was 5 months old. He got up from a nap and then vomited exorcist style and went limp, I knew something was not right especially since he never even spit up before. I called his dr who sent us to the hospital. There they ran every test imaginable, x-rays, MRI the works and they could not find anything wrong with him. Finally after 3 days in the hospital and being poked and probed with no answer I requested to be sent to the Childrens Valley Hospital.
    We were not even there for 4 hours when they had already found out and fixed the problem, and all it took was an ultrasound. My son had intussuception. Basically it is when your intestine turn in on itself, like when your turning a sock inside out, they inserted a hose through his bottom and blew it back out like a balloon.

    Problem was fixed and it has never happened again. There is no known cause for this, they called it a freak accident with a very easy fix if caught on time.

    I don’t know if this helps you but I just want to tell you not to give up and keep looking for an answer. Nobody knows your child better than you do, so follow your gut reaction and if one dr can’t give you an answere try another and another. Wish you the best of luck.

  6. Shelly

    My daughter has had 3 episodes where she went completely limp and barely could hold her eyes open. She is 1 year old. She will give a weak cry thru this bc she knows something isn’t right, and then after about 2 minutes she comes to.

    We as well have no answers from Drs. My daughter has spinabifida so we are not sure if it is connected with that or not. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Niamh

    Hi all,
    I just feel really lost at this time. I have a beautiful baby daughter Alanna rose who is 18 weeks old. At 3 wks she became unconscious while I was winding her, she became completely limp and turned white.Mmy 1st response was that she choked or aspirated but she was still breathing although this was hard to determine, she did not become blue but would not respond to any stimuli.

    I ran to my local doctor with her (who was 2 minutes away), she called an ambulance. I am a nurse and gave Alanna 2 rescue breaths on the way to docs. I was unsure of what to do. We were brought by ambulance to the local pediatric unit (30 mins away).

    Alanna was unresponsive on arrival but breathing (just). After 5 minutes in hospital she came back to herself crying normally (she had been unresponsive for 40 – 50 mins at this stage… no exaggeration, very scary)

    During her 1st feed in the hospital the doctors witnessed her do the same but she responded after 5-6 mins. She was diagnosed on clinical examination as having reflux but they could not explain why this happened!!? Can anyone shed light on this or should I just forget it and thank God for what I have?

  8. MomtoRefluxer

    We just had a similar episode with our son over the weekend. He got a tummy bug and was vomiting violently and so frequently and then he would go unconscious for a few seconds after these episodes. We took him to the ER and they kept him and ran bunch of tests to make sure it was not a seizure (EEG, ct-scan, blood work, etc).

    My little guy also suffers from reflux, but this is the first time that he has actually vomited like this. It was very scary! His lips turned blue and he turned pale color and went limp.

    I am curious as to why this happened and what causes it.

  9. Julie

    I can understand you completely. My 6 year old has these episodes. She has been having them since she was born. The doctors have done EEGs on her and still cannot tell me why.

    I watch now for the indicator that it is going to happen. She yawns, and i know that she is going to vomit and pass out. The area around her mouth turns blue and she goes completely limp then after it is over she seems fine.

    I have been told she may be having a form of seizure but it never shows on the EEG.

  10. Christina

    Thank you Paula for responding, and I will try a few of your suggestions.

    Well, he vomits a lot and I mean like exorcist type vomit, not spit up, we have reduced from 4 ounces to 2 ounces per feeding and feeding him more often. He is burped at every 1/2 to 1 ounce after ingestion. He has been on rice cereal mixed in with formula per peditrician orders. (he has finally gained weight thanks to this) He still vomits 2-4 times a day like this. He also vomits at diff times, not just after feeding.

    He has already been tested for pyloric stenosis, and it came back negative. He also goes blue all around his mouth at diff times but his lips are normal color.

    We have tried him on breastmilk, and a couple other formulas and now is on soy. I don’t know what type of formula you are referring to, but I am willing to try anything at this point.

    They did an allergy test at hospital, but will be weeks before results will come in. He has an mri scheduled, and they will be calling me back to schedule an EKG.

    I must say I really like his peditrician and he is trying hard to find out what’s wrong with him, and he also doesn’t think he has reflux.

    He also said at my baby’s appt yesterday he thinks he has a condition called sanderford’s syndrome that causes passing out after vomiting, but I can’t find any info on the net about it. I hope it is this condition cause peditrician said if it is this, he will outgrow this.

    Well thank you, and if you have any other suggestions, I will listen and probably try it out.

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Christina, it is called Sandifer’s Syndrome, and it is a spasm related to acid reflux in babies. You can see it on film in the video clip below: