Recommendations

RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division

4.
Do not routinely treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) in infants with acid suppression therapy.

Gastroesophageal reflux is common in preterm infants, infants and children and uncomplicated gastroesophageal reflux typically does not require medical therapy. However, gastroesophageal reflux may evolve into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a condition where the persistent leaking of stomach contents back into the oesophagus results in heartburn and other troublesome symptoms. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are sometimes prescribed in cases of GORD to achieve a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production.

However, numerous randomised controlled trials have concluded that PPIs are no more effective than placebo in treating GORD in infants, though there is some evidence (of moderate quality) of their effectiveness in treating GORD in older children. Moreover, there is still a paucity of trials confirming the long term safety of PPI use in children more generally while there is considerable evidence that PPIs have significant negative side effects such headache, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, increased rates of infection and increased rates of food allergy.

Supporting evidence
  • Davidson G, Wenzl TG, Thomson M, et al. Efficacy and safety of once-daily esomeprazole for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease in neonatal patients. Journal of Pediatrics 2013; 163(3):692-8.
  • Tighe M, Afzal NA, Bevan A, et al. Pharmacological treatment of children with gastro-oesophageal reflux. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014; 11:CD008550.
  • van der Pol RJ, Smits MJ, van Wijk MP, et al. Efficacy of proton-pump inhibitors in children with gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. Pediatrics 2011; 127(5):925-35.
How this list was made How this list was made

The Paediatrics & Child Health Division (PCHD) formed a group of interested Fellows to comprise a General Paediatrics EVOLVE Working Group. A review of low-value practices relevant to general paediatrics was conducted drawing on lists published by Choosing Wisely US and Canada, contributions to Choosing Wisely Australia by other medical colleges and published EVOLVE lists developed by other specialties in order to identify low-value practices of relevance while avoiding duplicating the mention of practices already identified in other EVOLVE lists. Based on this review, the Working Group shortlisted 15 items for further consideration. 

These 15 items were then reviewed and discussed by participants at a workshop held at the RACP Annual Congress 2016. Following these deliberations, the list was further narrowed down to 10 items. These 10 items were incorporated into an online survey which also summarised the recent evidence on each of these items. A link to the survey was distributed to all Fellows and advanced trainees of the RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division. 

Survey respondents were asked whether they agreed, disagreed or were unsure about whether each item was undertaken in a significant number of paediatric patients, whether there was good evidence that the item should be undertaken less often and whether reducing use of the item was important in terms of reducing harm and/or costs to the healthcare system. Each item was assigned a score based on respondents’ answers to these three questions on each item. There were 269 respondents representing a survey response rate of approximately 22 per cent. The five highest scoring items were selected to be on this ‘top-five’ list.