Are proton pump inhibitors safe for kids?

Acid Reflux Diagnosis IconAcid reflux and gastrointestinal reflux diseases (GERD) are uncomfortable and potentially serious medical conditions that require treatment. One potential treatment is with a class of oral medications known as proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors reduce the amount of stomach acid that is produced in the body. Some proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec and Nexium are available without a prescription, while other proton pump inhibitors such as Prevacid and Dexilant require a prescription.

Proton Pump Inhibitors Are Prescribed for Children

Proton pump inhibitors are one option for treating pediatric acid reflux and GERD. In November 2016, researchers published an article about the use of gastric acid inhibitors in infants in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics. In the abstract for that article, researchers stated, “… proton pump inhibitors are widely and increasingly used, often without objective evidence or investigations to guide treatment.”

Different Studies Find Proton Pump Inhibitor Problems for Children

Despite their widespread use for infants and children, proton pump inhibitors may cause potentially serious side effects for children. These side effects include increased risks of:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal tract infections
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Bone fractures
  • A significant increase in stomach acid once the medication is stopped

In the January 2018 Archives of Disease in Childhood researchers also cautioned that proton pump inhibitors could pose toxicity risks for infants and children that are not yet fully known.

Later in 2018, different researchers published a study in JAMA Otolaryngol Head & Neck Surgery. This study looked at the medical charts of 293 children under the age of two who had abnormal results on videofluoroscopic swallow studies at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2015 with follow-up in 2015 or 2016. According to the study:

  • Approximately 53% of the 293 children had aspiration, and the other 47% had isolated laryngeal penetration.
  • About half of the 293 children were hospitalized.
  • Approximately 51% of the children with swallowing difficulties took proton pump inhibitors.
  • Children who took proton pump inhibitors were about twice as likely to be hospitalized and two to three times as likely to spend the night in the hospital as compared with children in the study who did not take proton pump inhibitors.

According to the researchers who conducted the study and wrote the findings, “These results support growing concerns about potential risks of PPIs and suggest the need to reevaluate the use of pharmacologic acid suppression in children with aspiration…”

What to Do If Your Child Is Hurt by a Proton Pump Inhibitor Medication

Proton pump inhibitors have been on the market in the United States for decades. During this time, millions of people, including children, have taken the medication and may have been unaware of the serious side effects that could occur.

Pharmaceutical companies that make proton pump inhibitors have a duty to:

  • Design safe medications
  • Manufacture safe medications
  • Provide reasonable warnings about a medication’s side effects.

If a pharmaceutical company fails to do one of these three things and your child is hurt as a result, then you may have a legal claim against the pharmaceutical company.

Pharmaceutical injury cases can be difficult to bring on your own. You need a lot of information that is in possession of the pharmaceutical company. Safety studies, manufacturing records, and other information may be important to your case.

You shouldn’t have to worry about how to get this information and make a successful claim as you care for your child. Instead, you have the right to work with a mass tort lawyer who can represent your child’s unique interests.

A mass tort case is not the same as a class action case. You may be able to share the costs of litigation and discovery with others who have been similarly hurt, but your lawyer will fight for your child’s personal recovery in a mass tort lawsuit.

To learn more about protecting your child’s rights, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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If you have been injured by dangerous drugs you need to speak with an experienced mass torts lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer