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January 25, 2012

Acid-reflux medications no benefit for treating asthma in children, UVA study finds

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Despite research linking asthma and acid reflux, acid-reflux medications do not control children’s asthma symptoms , a study led by the University of Virginia School of Medicine has found.

The multisite study determined that adding the acid-reflux drug lansoprazole to standard inhaled asthma treatments did not improve asthma symptoms in children. Instead, it slightly increased their risk of sore throats and other respiratory problems.

A Change in Asthma Treatment?

Doctors have believed that acid reflux, common in children with asthma, increased their respiratory symptoms. “This drug and others in its class have been given for years to children with poorly controlled asthma,” said W. Gerald Teague, MD, the study’s senior investigator and Division Chief of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine at UVA Children’s Hospital . “However, we learned that treatment with lansoprazole to decrease stomach acid was not only ineffective, but associated with increased upper respiratory infections . The results of this study hopefully will change clinical practice so that children with asthma with no clear symptoms of acid reflux do not receive unnecessary treatment.”

Lansoprazole, Studied

Researchers at UVA and 17 other medical centers across the U.S. evaluated 306 children, ranging in age from 6 to 17, whose asthma was inadequately controlled. Participants received a daily dose of lansoprazole, which suppresses stomach acid, or a placebo. Twenty-four weeks later, researchers found no significant differences in the severity of the children’s asthma symptoms.

Similar results were seen in the subgroup of children, approximately 40 percent, who suffered from acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid makes its way into the esophagus. Unlike in adults, acid reflux in children does not produce symptoms such as heartburn.

The results of the study are published in the Jan. 25 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association .

FOR REPORTERS: Dr. Teague will be available for interviews from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 26. To schedule an interview, please contact Josh Barney at 434.243.1988 or

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