Are there risks associated with empiric acid suppression treatment of infants and children suspected of having gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Chung, E.Y.; Yardley, J.

Hospital Pediatrics 3(1): 16-23

2013


ISSN/ISBN: 2154-1663
PMID: 24319831
DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2012-0077
Accession: 051630954

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Abstract
It has become common practice to empirically treat infants and children who have suspected gastroesophageal reflux disease by using acid-suppressive medications. However, evidence to support the effectiveness of these medications in the pediatric population is limited. With multiple studies in adult patients indicating increased risk of infection, we reviewed the literature to determine the association between acid-suppressive medications and serious adverse effects in infants and children. We conducted a PubMed search on the adverse effects of H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors in pediatric patients. The studies selected were original research and systematic reviews with control groups and study objectives evaluating the relationship between acid-suppressive medications and serious adverse effects (namely, infections). Fourteen studies met our inclusion criteria. The majority of studies found a significant association between acid-suppressive medications and the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis/bacteremia, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections in infants and children. Given the questionable efficacy of H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors and the growing evidence of increased risk of serious infections, acid-suppressive medications should be used cautiously in infants and children suspected of having gastroesophageal reflux disease.