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How Safe Is Ranitidine for Babies?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Using ranitidine for babies is generally considered safe, although it should still be used only when needed. Ranitidine is a common antacid medication which goes by various brand names. It is most often used in babies to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in infants who have pain due to an overproduction of stomach acid. This drug is also commonly used to treat adults with similar conditions, although it is given in higher doses.

When given in the right amount, there are usually no safety issues in using ranitidine for infants. Even newborns can be prescribed this drug without much concern of side effects. Dosage is typically dictated by the child's weight, so very young infants will receive a smaller dosage than older babies who weight more. In some cases, even a higher dose will be used if symptoms do not improve.

Even though the safety of ranitidine for babies has been established, there is still some risk of side effects. Most babies will not experience any negative reactions to this drug, but some may become a little tired with each dose. Those who are taking too high of a dosage average dosage for their size may also experience diarrhea. Continued use of antacids has been linked with certain digestive disorders, such as malabsorption of nutrients. Any baby who begins losing weight, refusing to eat, or who regresses in skills after beginning an antacid treatment should be checked by a physician.

The use of ranitidine for babies is intended for those with actual GERD and not those who simply spit up a lot. If a baby is not crying and does not appear to be in pain after spitting up, then there is no need for him or her to take an antacid. Ranitidine does not prevent spitting up. It only works to neutralizes stomach acid by minimizing its production, thus relieving the burning sensation which may be experienced by infants with true GERD.

Some doctors will occasionally diagnose a baby with silent reflux disease and prescribe ranitidine for babies who do not exhibit most symptoms. These infants may become extra fussy around feeding time and appear to be in pain, but no spitting up is apparent. Although silent reflux does occur, any infant who does not improve in symptoms within two weeks of beginning an antacid therapy probably does not have reflux disease. Colic, chronic gas, or milk sensitivities are all possible explanations for a crying baby.

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Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Jun 09, 2013

Untreated acid reflux can cause esophagus inflammation and respiratory problems in babies. It's better to give something like ranitidine than do nothing.

By donasmrs — On Jun 09, 2013

@fify-- I think that's the right thing to do for babies who just spit up their milk, but for babies who have serious reflux and GERD, ranitidine is necessary.

I already had my son tested for food intolerance, he doesn't have any. What he has is silent reflux. He vomits after each meal and does not go to sleep easily. He has to take a magnesium type of anti-acid as well as ranitidine. Ranitidine is absolutely safe, I spoke to several different pediatricians about it and they all confirmed this.

By fify — On Jun 08, 2013

Ranitidine might be safe for babies, but I still don't think it's a good idea to use it for infants and toddlers. One reason is because ranitidine is not a regular magnesium anti-acid. It's a medication that reduces the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

The other reason why I don't want to give it to my baby is because acid reflux in babies can be a symptom of a food intolerance. I don't want to cover up these symptoms with medications. If she has a food intolerance or allergy, I want to find out about it so that I can change her diet accordingly.

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