Kids antacid use up 56%

December 8, 2007

That occasional children’s tummy ache used to warrant a soft rub and a warm water bottle. Not any more. Last year over 2 million children took medicine for heartburn or other digestive problems.

Medco Health Solutions Inc. analyzed prescription claims from 2002 to 2006 to track the use of heartburn or digestive drugs in children from birth to 18. The reviews of more than 575,000 insured children found that the number of infants and preschoolers (4 and under) taking medications to treat gastrointestinal conditions rose almost 56 percent from 2002 to 2006, and the prevalence of elementary school-age children (5-11 year olds) using these drugs increased by 31 percent during that time frame. Over a million users were ages 12 to 18.

Based on the analysis, it’s estimated that more than 2 million children in the U.S. used these drugs in 2006.

Researchers say obesity is one factor influencing the trend. More than 10 percent of preschoolers and 30 percent of children are now considered overweight in the U.S and those extra pounds can contribute to heartburn. As America’s kids get bigger, so does their need for relief. Diet, and stress and anxiety experienced by youngsters may also be a factor.

Leave it to the pharmaceutical companies to jump on board with quick and easy, candy-flavored solutions. Bubblegum Kid’s Mylanta and Cherry Blast Kid’s Tums come packaged in cute, kid-friendly bottles guaranteed to appeal to your little ones.

Good idea or marketing madness?

The Mayo Clinic says antacids should not be given to young children (under 6 years of age) unless ordered by their doctor. Their reasoning: Since children cannot usually describe their symptoms very well, a doctor should first check the child. The child may have a condition that needs other treatment. If so, antacids will not help and may even cause unwanted effects or make the condition worse. In addition, aluminum- or magnesium-containing medicines should not be given to premature or very young children because they may cause serious side effects, especially when given to children who have kidney disease or who are dehydrated.

A look at the labels.

Active ingredients:
Tums has 750mg of calcium carbonate in each kid’s tablet. Interesting considering the regular strength Tums for adults only have 400mg. ?????
Mylanta has 400mg. in each kid’s tablet. Their adult Mylanta regular strength tablet has 700mg.

Inactive ingredients:
Tums Cherry Blast:
Calcium carbonate, sorbitol, dextrose, sucrose, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, adipic acid, natural and artificial flavors, maltodextrin, guar gum, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake. Contains: gluten (wheat).
Children’s Mylanta:
Citric acid, confectioner’s sugar, D&C Red #27, flavors, magnesium stearate, sorbitol, starch.

Magnesium in both, not good. Sugar in both. How much? Who knows. The food colorings alone have been linked to behavioral problems such as temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity and allergic reactions. And would anyone think in a million years that giving a Tum’s to a child with a gluten allergy would be a problem….well Kid’s Tum’s also contain gluten! You may want to get out your chemistry book to look up the rest of the inactive ingredients.

Mylanta recommends checking with a doctor before giving their product to your child. Tums recommends checking with a doctor only if your child is “presently taking a prescription drug.”

Common sense says, give your kid’s a healthy diet, lots of exercise, big hugs, and if their tummy keeps acting up, check with their pediatrician.


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