A leading pediatric gastroenterologist is worried about the harmful effects of these drugs in babies.

These findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Dr Eric Hassall has found that use of proton pump inhibitors grew exponentially for babies less than a year old in the past decade. Proton pump inhibitors are powerful drugs that block the ability of the stomach to produce acid. They are commonly given to adults who suffer with heartburn, acid reflux and regurgitation. Common examples include Nexium, Losec and Zoton.

Dr Hassall blames advertising by pharmaceutical companies for the rise in use, as well as incorrect diagnoses. He stated that the majority of these babies don't actually have acid reflux. One study that examined data from more than 1 million babies found a seven-fold rise in the amount of acid reflux medication prescribed to infants between the years 1999 and 2004. The FDA has never approved the use of proton pump inhibitors in infants under one year of age because no studies have ever been conducted to confirm their effectiveness or safety.

It is well known that the use of these drugs in adults is highly risky because there are several potentially serious side effects. Stomach acid is a good thing. It is necessary for adequate digestion as well as inhibiting the growth of harmful microbes in the gastrointestinal tract. Adults who take proton pump inhibitors are at increased risk of kidney disease, dementia, osteoporosis and severe bowel infections. These drugs cause several nutrient deficiencies, particularly magnesium and B vitamins. It is extremely irresponsible to prescribe them to young infants.

Digestive problems in infants are usually the result of food intolerance or allergy. Changing the diet (or changing mom's diet if she is breast feeding) is usually an effective strategy for reducing symptoms. Slippery elm, ginger and peppermint are all soothing to the lining of the stomach and esophagus. They are found in Fibertone powder. For personalized help please consult your healthcare practitioner.

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