Researchers have stated that stomach acid blocking drugs should only be given to infants with extreme caution, as their use is linked to broken bones in childhood. This finding was presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting and specifically looked at antacid use in infants under the age of one.

Acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), is usually treated with drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine H2-receptor antagonists (H2-blockers), which significantly reduce production of stomach acid. Common examples include Nexium, Somac, Losec, Zantac and Zoton. These drugs have been linked with increased bone fractures in adults, but until now there hasn’t been research to see if they have the same effect in children.

Researchers looked at the health records of 874,447 children born within the Military Healthcare System (MHS) between 2001 and 2013 who received medical care within the system for at least 2 years. Children who were given proton pump inhibitors had a 22 percent increased risk of fractures, while children who used both proton pump inhibitors and H2-blockers had a 31 percent increased risk. Use of H2-blockers was not associated with an immediate increase in factures, but the risk increased with time.

Additionally, the number of bone fractures children suffered increased with the number of days they took these drugs. The younger a child was when they first began using antacids, the higher the fracture risk. Those who started before six months of age had the greatest risk.

This is very upsetting to learn. By reducing stomach acid, antacids also inhibit nutrient absorption. The body of an infant is growing and developing so rapidly. Depriving it of vitamins, minerals and protein can lead to serious health problems.

This is only one of the many problems associated with antacids. I have written about other issues in the past. Fortunately there are safe and effective alternatives in the vast majority of cases. If your infant is currently taking one of these medications, please speak to your doctor about alternatives.