Study Finds New Side Effects Of Acid Reflux Drugs On Kids

A new study found that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) could put young children and adolescents at higher risk of fractures. Researchers said parents and health care providers should reconsider giving the use of common acid reflux drugs to young patients. 

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, analyzed data on children and adolescents, with an average age of 4, from 51 children's hospitals across the U.S. Researchers looked into 32,000 care encounters that involved PPIs between 2011 and 2015. 

"This study suggests an increased risk of fracture among otherwise healthy pediatric patients exposed to PPIs," Nathan Robert Fleishman, lead researcher at Children's Mercy Kansas City, said in a statement

Children who frequently took the drugs for acid reflux appeared with 1.4 percent higher fracture rate compared to those who never received PPIs. Researchers then conducted another analysis considering the participants’ differences in characteristics, such as sex, race, insurance status and type and intensity of care encounter.

Results showed that PPI exposed children remained at higher risk of fractures. The team said young patients taking the drug are 20 percent more likely to experience the bone damage.

In the study, both PPI- and non-PPI exposed children commonly reported injured arms and hands. However, those who took the acid reflux drugs more often had more fractures of the leg, foot, ribs and spine.

Fractures were most common in patients younger than 3 and those aged between 9 and 13. Researchers said all kinds of PPIs led to higher fracture risk.

"While our findings are statistically significant, the relative risks are small," Fleishman said. "However, our study design tended to underestimate the actual risk."

Commonly used PPIs to treat acid reflux and other upper intestinal disorders include lansoprazole, omeprazole and esomeprazole. These drugs have also been linked to risk of fracture in adults after long-term use.

"Our study highlights the need to limit the use of PPIs to individuals who are clearly benefiting and for the least duration necessary,"  Thomas Attard, study co-author, said. "Additionally, children who are on these medications long-term warrant ongoing follow up."

Acid Reflux In Children Researchers have found that frequent intake of acid reflux drugs could increase the risk of fractures in children and adolescents. Pixabay