You may not believe why inappropriate drugs being prescribed for healthy infants

The new normal

Ask any parent. Unexplained crying in infants is as common as fireflies in summertime. And as unpleasant as the crying is, the spitting up that comes with it is…well, gross. Still, it comes with the territory.

That can be disturbing for any parent. Especially if you’re working on just a few hours sleep per night.

But this is what’s far more disturbing. Many pediatricians attempt to “solve” the problem with a popular adult drug.

How did we get to this point where innocent children are put in harm’s way with drugs they don’t need so we don’t have to do more laundry?

Trickling down

Acid reflux is over-diagnosed in infants less than a year old. That’s the opinion of Dr. Eric Hassall, a pediatric gastroenterologist in San Francisco.

Dr. Hassall says that when unexplained crying leads to spitting up, doctors are jumping too quickly to an acid reflux diagnosis.

Many infants are treated with acid-suppressing drugs. These are primarily proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). But Dr. Hassall notes that there’s no research to support the use of such powerful drugs in infants.

So much for “science-based” drug use!

Here’s what the research DOES show. PPIs are no more effective than placebo for children with unexplained crying and spitting up.

As we’ve seen in recent years, PPI drugs suppress stomach acid. But they can also set up other problems. Dr. Hassall points out that gastric acid fights infections such as pneumonia and gastroenteritis.

Repeating my earlier question… How did we get to this point? Dr. Hassall offers this answer. “We are medicalizing normality.”

Dr. Hassall: “It is recognized that more advertising leads to more requests by patients for advertised medicine, and more prescriptions.” He says that message has “trickled down” to parents of infants.

I agree completely. But I believe there’s one more part to the puzzle: young pediatricians.

And now we have all the components of an impressive drug sales plan.

You take pediatricians under the age of, say, 45. They’ve been brainwashed in med school to believe that medicating is the right response to nearly any symptom. Then match them with parents who have seen all the ads on TV. And these desperate parents are holding screaming children, on the verge of spitting up again…

Jackpot! You’ve got a drug executive’s dream come true.

And that’s how we got to this point.

If you know anyone with a new baby in the house, share this message. Tight swaddling and a source of white noise will quiet most infants long before spitting up occurs. No need for a powerful drug that’s dangerous even for adults.

“Over-prescription of Acid-suppressing Medications in Infants: How It Came About, Why It’s Wrong and What To Do About It” Eric Hassall, The Journal Of Pediatrics, October 2011,

“Acid-Suppressing Drugs Being Over Prescribed in Infants” California Pacific Medical Center press release, 10/14/11,

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