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Is Air-Induced Reflux (AIR) Causing Your Baby's Reflux?

Dec 11, 2023


Does your baby suffer from frequent spitting up, fussiness, and discomfort after feedings? These could be signs of Air-Induced Reflux (AIR), a potential cause of infant reflux that may be overlooked.


What is AIR?

AIR occurs when babies swallow excess air during breastfeeding. This can be due to several factors, including:

  • Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia): A restricted tongue limits proper latch and milk transfer, leading to air intake.
  • Lip-tie (maxillary lip frenulum): A tight band under the upper lip hinders a good seal around the breast, promoting air swallowing.
  • Other feeding problems: Poor latch, difficulty transferring milk, and inefficient sucking can also contribute.


Symptoms of AIR:

  • Frequent spitting up after feedings
  • Excessive post-feeding fussiness and irritability
  • Distended belly after feeding
  • Gassy
  • Coughing
  • Clicking sounds during feedings
  • Difficulty latching or staying latched


Dr. Scott Segal's Study:

A 2016 study by Dr. Scott Segal, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, revealed a significant link between tongue-tie/lip-tie and AIR. His findings included:

  • Over 50% of 1,000 infants with tongue-tie and/or lip-tie experienced AIR.
  • 526 infants showed improvement or complete resolution of reflux symptoms after a simple frenotomy/frenotomy procedure (tongue/lip tie release) in 2016.
  • This led to reduced reliance on reflux medication in over 52% of cases.


What does this mean for parents?

Dr. Segal's study highlights the importance of considering AIR as a potential cause of your baby's reflux. If you suspect AIR, take action:

  • Consult a doctor or lactation consultant: They can assess your baby's feeding and oral anatomy to diagnose AIR.
  • Seek lactation support: A lactation consultant can help you improve your breastfeeding technique and ensure your baby latches properly, minimising air intake.
  • Consider frenotomy/frenotomy: If your baby has tongue-tie and/or lip-tie, this simple procedure might significantly improve their reflux and overall comfort.



  • AIR may present as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
  • Early diagnosis and treatment of AIR can improve your baby's well-being and prevent unnecessary medication or invasive testing.
  • Every baby is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Collaborate with your healthcare team to find the best solution for your baby.


By understanding AIR and its potential impact on your baby's health, you can take proactive steps to address the underlying cause and help your little one thrive.


Concerned about your baby's reflux? At Completely Aligned, our team of IBCLCs can help! We offer comprehensive consultations to assess your baby's feeding and oral anatomy and provide personalised support to address any underlying issues, including AIR.

Contact Completely Aligned in Camden today to schedule a consultation and help your baby thrive!



Siegel, S. (2016). Aerophagia Induced Reflux in Breastfeeding Infants With Ankyloglossia and Shortened Maxillary Labial Frenula (Tongue and Lip Tie). International Journal Of Clinical Pediatrics, 5(1), 6-8.

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