Acid reflux meds on rise in babies, but are they effective?

by The Gazette Staff :: UPDATED: 15 October 2010 | 5:00 am

Spit up and sleep deprivation come with newborns, but a growing number of parents are seeking acid reflux medications to ease their babies’ blues.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved some of the most common acid reflux drugs — Prevacid, Nexium and Prilosec — for children younger than a year, because studies show the drugs are not effective for infants. Yet, use of acid blockers in infants has skyrocketed in recent years.

“We were given the choice of waiting it out or putting her on Prevacid,” Anna Scholl, 27, of Cedar Rapids, said of her baby, Grace. “We did the Prevacid, because I couldn’t stand to see our baby in pain.”

Acid blockers, advertised with catchy nicknames like the “Purple Pill,” have proved useful for adult heartburn or acid reflux. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of acid blockers that includes Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, were the third-most-mentioned drug — behind aspirin and cholesterol-lowering Lipitor — during doctor visits in 2006, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Health Statistics report from 2008. . .

. . . Many parents dealing with a screaming infant who doesn’t sleep and refuses to eat are willing to try anything, said Beth Anderson, an Ames native who now lives in Washington. Anderson founded the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association in 1992 after dealing with her daughter’s frequent regurgitation.

“She was waking up seven times a night, screaming bloody murder, and we couldn’t get her on the weight chart,” Anderson said.

Anderson and her husband scoured medical journals to find out what was wrong her their daughter, who they called “the Velcro baby” because she cried if put down. Anderson’s website,, now gets about 1 million hits a month and features lively parent discussion boards. . .

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