A specific type of heartburn medications, proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, may increase the risk for bone fractures in kids, according to a study.
The Risk with PPIs
Doctors often prescribe PPIs for children who are more than one year old when they have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This condition allows for stomach acid and food to be regurgitated, which causes discomfort for the child.
Researchers studied government records in Sweden of just over 230,000 children. Half of these children took PPIS which were prescribed by the doctors and half didn’t. After a follow-up of two years, data showed that of the children who had taken PPIs, just over 5350 of them had suffered a broken bone. For those who didn’t take PPIs, just under 4570 had a bone fracture.
According to the research, children who had used PPIs had a 11 percent higher risk for a bone fracture. Very few of them had fractures of the spine or skull. However, there were broken arms, broken legs and other fractures. Statistics showed that kids who had taken PPIs had an eight percent increase in the number of broken arms and 19 percent increase for broken bones in the leg.
The study didn’t account for physical activity differences or the amount of bone mineral density in each child, which could have an influence on the rate of fractures. The researcher said they didn’t conclude that all kids should stay away from PPIs. However, doctors should be aware of the potential risk when they prescribe the medications.
What is GERD?
Most babies spit up a little after taking a bottle or nursing. However, when they experience frequent spitting up along with feeding issues or loss of weight, it may indicate they have GERD. Normal spitting up should go away by the time they are one year old in most cases. If the issue continues or becomes worse, they may need treatment for GERD.
GERD can be caused by several factors, including a birth defect or medications. Secondhand smoke and obesity can also lead to GERD. Other factors include genetics, surgery on the abdomen and certain brain disorders.
Symptoms include vomiting, nausea and heartburn. In children, especially those who are younger, they may say they have stomach pain or pain in the chest. They may have hiccups or a feeling that food is stuck when they swallow. They may fail to gain weight or even lose weight. Children can eat less or avoid certain foods because of the GERD.
Treatment may include sleeping with the bed raised and not letting the child lie down for at least three hours after a meal. The doctor may recommend the child avoid sugar and spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine and acidic foods and drinks. They may also suggest the child eat more frequently and smaller portions.
Along with PPIs, a doctor may recommend H2 blockers or antacids. Many children do well with just the lifestyle changes, and it can prevent the need for medications which may have serious side effects.