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18th Jan 2018

Reflux medication for babies could be linked with weakened bones

Anna O'Rourke

Medications to prevent acid reflux in babies may weaken their bones, according to new research.

A study in the US has found that babies under one who have taken the drugs are more likely to suffer from bone breakages later in life.

Almost 900,000 children participated in the study at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Maryland between 2001 and 2013, according to AAP News.

Of those children, 10 per cent were prescribed acid reflux medication during their first year of life.

The medications included proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine H2-receptor antagonists (H2 blockers) to reduce the production of acid in the baby’s stomach.

Reflux medication for babies could be linked with weakened bones

The children who took PPIs were 22 per cent more likely to suffer with broken bones, while children who took PPIs as well as H2 blockers had a 31 per cent increased risk.

This could be because the medication reduces the baby’s production of stomach acid, which is needed for the absorption of calcium, a key nutrient for bone development.

The study also found that the earlier a baby took the medication, the higher the risk of bone breakage was.

“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting antacid medications are not safe for children, especially very young children, and should only be prescribed to treat confirmed serious cases of more severe symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and for the shortest length of time needed,” said Laura Malchodi, M.D., who led the study.

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