Stories about: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

Treating gastroesophageal reflux in kids: Fact vs. sensationalism

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs in many children, with a range of symptoms that can result in everything from mild discomfort to intense pain. A recent study indicates that current GER treatment methods may not be as effective in children as they could be, and calls for further pediatric testing to establish their actual worth. Many news outlets have written about the study, and several reports seem to say that because there are questions about current treatments, those treatments are ineffective. Rachel Rosen, MD, MPH, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Gastroenterology and Child Nutrition Program, disagrees with that sentiment and is blogging on Thrive to offer parents of children with GER a different viewpoint.

You may not hear about Gastroesophageal reflux in the news very often, but it’s actually quite common among toddlers. In fact, primary care physicians treat as many children under the age of five for GER as they do for asthma. GER occurs when gastric acid and other contents of the stomach travel back into the esophagus, mouth or even the lung. It can lead to painful heartburn, chest pain, esophagitis, and sometimes coughing and wheezing. As a parent it can be difficult to watch your child struggle with GER, but fortunately it’s a fully treatable condition, typically with medication called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that suppresses the acid and treats other symptoms like heartburn, abdominal pain, coughs and bloating.

But parents of children who have gastroesophageal reflux were thrown a curve ball last week when a study published by the journal Pediatrics suggested that PPIs are less effective in treating GER than many doctors realize. According to researchers, over-the-counter antacids like Maalox or Mylanta or Zantac can work as well as PPIs for easing discomfort caused by GER. The study has gotten a lot of media attention, but many of these headlines are misleading and make assumptions based on very limited pediatric data.

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