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Reports of Acid Reflux Symptoms Double, Study Finds

Too Many Babies Receive Acid Reflux Meds, Says Pediatrician

Fisher said the intense burning through her chest and shoulders was caused by a hiatial hernia, a condition brought on by heartburn and acid reflux. "Tossing and turning, just fatigue and pain that became part of your daily life," said Fisher. "It was grinding away at me." Like Fisher, nearly 20 percent of Americans live with acid reflux, according to the National Institutes of Health. But now one of the largest studies to look at the prevalence of acid reflux found that nearly 50 percent more people experience it today than a decade ago. The study, published in the journal Gut, followed more than 30,000 people in Norway for 11 years. At the start of the study, nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they experienced acid reflux symptoms at least one a week. Researchers saw a 47 percent increase in those who reported weekly acid reflux symptoms by the end of the study. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the throat and chest, also known as heartburn. Consuming acidic or fried and fatty foods can bring it on. While the study does not mention why acid reflux is on the rise, the researchers suggest that the increasing numbers may be linked to a rise in obesity rates. "The interabdominal pressure that goes along with being obese allows for more reflux," said Dr.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/acid-reflux-rates-parallel-obesity-epidemic/story?id=15240663

Hassall found that the use of proton pump inhibitors, a group of drugs meant to reduce gastric acid production, grew exponentially for babies less than a year old over the past decade. He blames advertising and pharmaceutical company promotion for the increase, as well as misleading misdiagnoses. One study that analyzed data of more than 1 million babies found a sevenfold increase in the amount of acid reflux medication prescribed to infants between 1999 and 2004. About .5 percent of the infants studied in the research received the medication within the first year of their lives, and half of those babies received the drugs before they were 4 months old. While it is difficult for parents to watch their child scream and spit up from perceived pain, Hassall emphasized that spitting up and crying in an otherwise healthy baby is normal. Despite this, babies are increasingly getting misdiagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which food and liquid in the stomach leak backward into the esophagus. The FDA has not approved these drugs for children under a year old because no studies have found them effective in that population. "In the absence of better information and physician guidance, and fed by advertising and misinformation on the Internet, parent blogs have increasingly promoted the '''my-baby-has-acid-reflux-and-needs-drugs' concept," Hassall said in a statement. "Parents, concerned by their infant's symptoms of apparent suffering take their concern to doctors, who very frequently comply and prescribe acid-suppressing medications for symptoms and signs that in most cases are not GERD. GERD-mania is in full cry, so to speak." In certain circumstances, there may be an indication that medication is needed, said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "But when you see a sevenfold increase in PPI prescriptions, you worry that the condition is being overdiagnosed, or if reflux is sort of a garbage-can diagnosis used anytime a child is crying and there's no obvious cause," said Ayoob.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://abcnews.go.com/Health/babies-receive-acid-reflux-meds-doc/story?id=14926271

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