Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD, GORD). What a sad conversation.
Every day in my clinic I am presented with distressed children and desperate parents who are told to “tough it out.” Who are told (or inferred) that they are inadequate parents, or that their child is “just being naughty” or “going through a developmental crying stage.”
One of my mums sent this email today: “I have been at a doctor appointment today and my doctor has told me to try to wean by child off omeprazole, as there has been a recent study out saying that babies shouldn’t be having this medication as the long term effects aren’t known. Can you please advise me on what I should do as I don’t want to cause more harm than good by giving it to him but at the same time he is drinking well [before he went onto omeprazole he was having major feeing and sleeping issues] Thank you.”
First do no harm. Surely there is a medical imperative to look at the long-term harm to your baby, who is left in pain for months and sometimes years, untreated, with esophageal burning day after day. Developing hyper-vigilance and behavior disorders. The distressed parents coping with depression, sleep deprivation and inadequate bonding to their child. The separation or divorce precipitated by endless nights of inconsolable crying. The feeding disorders that stem from chronic gut pain and regurgitation, with difficulty introducing solids. Children who are not thriving and whose brain growth might be compromised.
I don’t understand the reluctance of so many doctors to turn a blind eye to reflux disease and allow such obvious suffering. It is a serious well documented condition. The very-long-term side effects on all modern medications are unknown. Speculative. Omeprazole has been used for over 30 years with an excellent safety track record. We know that untreated GERD can be a disaster.
My plea is to have compassion on these babies and children and let them have the medication that they need.
By Rodney Ford +