Overtreating for Acid Reflux

Hard-to-soothe babies being prescribed acid-suppressing meds for no reason, expert says.


Babies spit up — it's just a fact of life. Unfortunately, health experts have noticed an alarming increase recently in the number of children younger than 1 being prescribed acid-suppressing drugs to reduce unexplained crying and spitting up that used to be considered normal, MSNBC.com reports.

Pediatric gastroenterologist Eric Hassall, M.D., in a commentary in The Journal of Pediatrics, blames "drug companies' marketing and parents' and doctors' tendency to want to solve problems with prescriptions," according to the MSNBC article. He cites a large study that found a 16-fold increase in the number of prescriptions for a liquid form of acid reflux medications from 1999 and 2004.

Despite this surge in prescriptions, Hassall is quoted as saying, "there is no good medical reason" for this increase in infant usage.

In the MSNBC article, Hassall says that "40 percent to 70 percent of babies spit up daily because infants' mouths are bigger than their stomachs, so they can't help it ... Lots of parents feel their babies are suffering, not realizing this is normal development."

If you're concerned about your baby's spitting up and crying, Hassall recommends not assuming right away that acid reflux — also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — is the problem. Call the pediatrician if your worries persist.

So what can parents do to prevent this constant spitting up? Check out our Top 5 Infant Ailments page for the best ways to remedy this common condition.