Acid Reflux Meds Given to Too Many Infants, Docs Say

Any parent will tell you that an inconsolable infant is one of the most frustrating things about caring for a new baby, and that any possible solution you can consider to soothe your baby seems worthwhile after long bouts of newborn discomfort.

One of the more difficult to accept aspects of newborn care is that sometimes, they cry. For hours. And hours and hours stretching on into days. The temptation to treat sobbing infants with available medications may be overwhelming for parents, and a recent commentary published in the medical journal Pediatrics touches on how the impetus to treat may actually be causing parents to needlessly medicate their kids.

Pediatric gastroenterologist at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco Dr. Eric Hassall says that “perfectly normal and healthy” babies cry and spit up, which may prompt parents to seek acid reflux drugs. Dr. Keith Ayoob of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine says:

“When you see a sevenfold increase in PPI prescriptions, you worry that the condition is being overdiagnosed, or if reflux is sort of a garbage-can diagnosis used anytime a child is crying and there’s no obvious cause.”

Drugs typically used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are not typically recommended for infants under the age of one, and use of the drugs prematurely can lead to increased risk of pneumonia and gastroenteritis. Hassell recommends dietary changes and before resorting to the use of acid reflux medications in young infants.

The sevenfold increase to which Ayoob refers occurred between 1999 and 2004.