Vomiting is a topic covered in the Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics.

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  • Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of gastric contents through the mouth.
    • Vomiting is a prominent feature of many disorders of infancy and childhood.
    • It is often the only presenting symptom of many diseases.
  • Regurgitation is defined as small, effortless mouthfuls of food or stomach contents.
  • Retching is contraction of the abdominal musculature against a closed glottis, restricting expulsion of stomach contents (also referred to as “dry heaves”).


  • Vomiting can be:
    • A defense mechanism to expel ingested toxins
    • An abnormality of, or damage to, the postrema area of the brain (a.k.a. the chemoreceptor trigger zone or vomiting center), which is located at the base of the fourth ventricle
    • A result of intestinal obstruction or anatomic abnormalities
    • Due to chronic gastrointestinal mucosal disease
    • The result of a generalized metabolic disease
    • A result of increased intracranial pressure

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