I’ve heard of an increase in allergies in bottle fed babies. I’ve certainly heard of antibiotics increasing the incidence of yeast overgrowth and allergies. A recent study added to this list with the report from JAMA Pediatrics that “Acid Suppressors in Early Infancy Linked to Allergies Later.”
A few years ago, when I first heard that infants were being prescribed magnesium-depleting proton pump inhibitors, I almost threw up. These are very strong drugs that suppress necessary stomach acid that helps digest food and absorb minerals. Instead of exploring food allergies and food intolerance in these poor infants, they are given drugs to prevent their natural tendency to upchuck foods that bother them.
On a website called ColonCalm it is noted that “The number of babies prescribed acid suppression drugs such as H2 blockers and PPIs grew 8-fold during 2002 to 2009, but fewer than 10% received any diagnostic testing for GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Some pediatricians are growing concerned that the ‘epidemic’ of infant GERD cases is actually due to over-diagnosis, especially since clinical trials show acid blockers work no better than a placebo and can actually lead to short term and long term side effects. The FDA has not approved PPIs for treatment of GERD in children younger than one year.”
A 2017 study “Early Antacid Exposure Increases Fracture Risk in Young Children” found that infants prescribed antacids to manage acid reflux, or spitting up, under age one had more bone fractures later in life. The records of 874,447 healthy children born within the Military Healthcare System from 2001 to 2013 found approximately 10% of the children were prescribed antacids in the first year of life! That’s 87,445 infants!
In the acid suppressors and allergy study of “792,130 children there were significant associations between the use of acid-suppressive medications or antibiotics in infancy and the development of allergic diseases in childhood. Use of acid-suppressive medications was positively associated with increased risks for all major categories of allergic disease and most strongly associated with food allergy.”
As to why this is happening they say that “It’s possible that medications that affect the microbiome might affect whether or not we have allergies. Acid-suppressing medications and antibiotics are two classes of drugs that could conceivably affect the microbes that live in our gut in unpredictable ways.”
They continue with their diagnosis, in hindsight, that “It’s also possible that acid-suppression drugs might change the ways in which we respond to orally ingested antigens. At least that’s what’s been seen in some animal studies.”
They conclude “Thus, this study provides further impetus that antibiotics and acid-suppressive medications should be used during infancy only in situations of clear clinical benefit.” Of course they call for more funding saying “Additional studies will be required to confirm causality and determine the mechanism of action.” And who is going to teach doctors how to truly diagnose GERD in children and how to treat spit-up properly and only use harmful acid blockers in cases of “clear clinical benefit”.
I’d ask Philippa Murphy, a postnatal educator in New Zealand who can tell you “Why newborns shouldn’t be prescribed reflux medications – PPI’s or H2 Blockers.” She’s found that 3 out of 5 of her infant consults have been given strong acid blockers. She’s aware that “Rebalancing the amount of food they are having to be in accordance with their digestive system can help tremendously, as can checking for a tongue tie and/or, releasing an overload of trapped air – these are the actual causes of GER.”
All this talk about medicating infants and children makes me realize that with the seniors drug cupboards already overflowing, they are the next population to target. I feel another blog coming on.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
RESOURCES: Along the borders and in the links of my web site you can find my books, writings, and my call-in radio show. Email your questions to: email@example.com.