, Volume 4, Issue 10, pp 673-685
Date: 31 Aug 2012

Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children

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A substantial percentage of infants, children and adolescents experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and its accompanying symptoms, as well as disease complications. The diagnosis of GERD in children is made based upon the child’s history, and data derived primarily from pH monitoring tests and endoscopy. In those children with confirmed reflux disease, the options for management parallel those recommended in adult patients, with the first step consisting of lifestyle changes. Surgical procedures may also be performed; however, these are rarely recommended prior to an adequate course of pharmacologic therapy, and appropriate case selection is important.

Among the current pharmacotherapeutic options available in the US, the prokinetic agents and the acid-inhibitory agents (histamine-2 receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors) are the most widely used. The clinical utility of the prokinetic agents has been limited by the recent withdrawal of cisapride from the US marketplace and the potential for irreversible central nervous system complications with metoclopramide. Numerous clinical studies performed in adults, and several studies involving children, have demonstrated that the proton pump inhibitors are more effective than the histamine-2 receptor antagonists in the relief of GERD symptoms and healing of erosive esophagitis. In children, omeprazole and lansoprazole may be administered as the intact oral capsule, or in those who are unable or unwilling to swallow, the granule contents of the capsule may be mixed with soft foods (e.g. apple sauce) or fruit drinks/liquid dietary supplements prior to oral administration with no detrimental effects on pharmacokinetics, bioavailability, or pharmacodynamics. Studies performed with omeprazole and lansoprazole in children have shown pharmacokinetic parameters that closely resemble those observed in adults. In over a decade of use in adults, the proton pump inhibitor class of agents has been found to have a good safety profile. Studies involving children have also shown these agents to be well tolerated. In numerous drug-drug interaction studies performed with these two proton pump inhibitors, relatively few clinically significant interactions have been observed.