Study: Proton pump inhibitor drugs may contribute to fracture risk

| Mar 31, 2020 | Pharmaceutical Liability |

It’s relatively unusual for kids to be given proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are heartburn control drugs. They’re usually prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which a child persistently regurgitates stomach acid and food.

If your child is on a PPI, however, you should be aware that a recent study found an 11% increased chance for bone fractures.

Not all heartburn drugs are PPIs. Here are some common PPI drugs:

  • Aciphex (Rabeprazole)
  • Dexilent (Dexlansoprazole)
  • Nexium (Esomeprazole)
  • Prevacid (Lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec (Omeprazole)
  • Protonix (Pantoprazole)

Kids taking PPIs experienced more bone breaks than those who did not

For the study, which appeared in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers examined the health records of 231,866 Swedish children. Half had been prescribed PPIs and the other half had not. They followed up for a little more than two years and, during that time, there were 5,354 broken bones among the kids taking PPIs, but only 4,568 among those who were not.

That works out to an 11% increased risk, although the risk appeared higher in some types of fractures than others:

  • 8% increase in broken bones of the arm
  • 19% increase in broken bones of the leg
  • 51% increase in other fractures

There was no increased risk reported for skull and spine fractures.

One weakness in this study is that the researchers were unable to control for a couple of factors that contribute to bone health: bone mineral density and physical activity levels.

“We’re not saying that all children should avoid P.P.I.’s,” said the study’s lead author, “but this is a small increased risk. Where these drugs are necessary, the doctor should keep an eye out for these kinds of events.”

If your child is taking a proton pump inhibitor, do not have them stop taking it without discussing it with your doctor first. It is possible that the benefits to your child outweigh this additional risk.

If you believe your child may have been injured due to a pharmaceutical drug, you should discuss your concerns with an experienced product liability attorney.