Use of Gastroesophageal Reflux Medications in Premature Infants After NICU Discharge

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OBJECTIVES: To describe the epidemiology and management of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) medications started in the first year of life for premature infants.

METHODS: Retrospective review of a cohort of infants ≤35 weeks’ gestation presenting for care by 168 days of age to a 30-site network between 2005 and 2009 (n = 2217) and followed to 3 years of age. Medication frequency, types, and duration of use were assessed. Logistic regression identified factors associated with treatment.

RESULTS: Thirty-seven percent (812) were prescribed GER medications with 77% begun after NICU discharge. Ninety percent (727) received histamine-2 receptor antagonists, 33% (269) proton pump inhibitors, 22% (182) prokinetics; 40% (325) received >1 medication. Outpatient medication was initiated at 95 ± 69 days of life for total of 294 ± 249 days (interquartile ratio: 117–359). Feeding issues (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.24–3.39) were associated with outpatient initiation. Forty-three percent (322) of infants started before 6 months were still on at 1 year of age associated with gestational age <32 weeks (aOR 1.76, 95% CI: 1.16–2.67), chronic lung disease (aOR 2.59, 95% CI: 1.29–5.22), and reactive airways disease (aOR 1.67, 95% CI: 1.05–2.65).

CONCLUSIONS: Of the 37% of the cohort on GER medications, 77% were started after NICU discharge with prolonged use of medications. Feeding difficulties were associated with starting medication and markers of chronic lung disease with continuation of treatment. With uncertain evidence of efficacy, use of these medications in a high-risk population should be carefully evaluated.



D'Agostino JA, Passarella M, Martin AE, Lorch SA