Avoid ranitidine (acid suppression) in neonates

More evidence that ranitidine may contribute to necrotizing enterocolitis and fatal outcomes has been published (Pediatrics 2012; 129: e40-45).

In this study (which was reviewed in The Journal of Pediatrics 2012; 161: 168-69), four neonatal intensive care units in Italy performed a multicenter prospective observational study of very low birth weight (VLBW) inants.  There were 274 neonates with gestational ages ranging from 24-32 weeks and birth weights ranging from 401-1500 grams.  The patients receiving ranitidine were similar to the unexposed group in terms of risk factors for infection/NEC, birth weight, gestational age, sex, APGAR scores, PDA, intubation duration, and central vascular access duration.

  • 34 of 91 (37%) exposed to ranitidine developed infections compared with 9.8% of the group not exposed to ranitidine (OR 5.5)
  • Risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) was 6.6-fold higher among ranitidine-treated neonates
  • Mortality was 9.9% for ranitidine-treated patients compared with 1.6% of control patients
Since gastric acid acts as a defense against ingested pathogens, theoretically inhibition of acid production allows proliferation of these pathogens with subsequent infections and development of necrotizing enterocolitis.  These potential risks and the general lack of benefit of acid suppression in neonates should help guide clinician decision-making.
Another concern with ranitidine has been among acute appendicitis patients (see references below) where it has been associated with an increased likelihood of developing an abscess.

Additional references/previous related blog entries:

4 thoughts on “Avoid ranitidine (acid suppression) in neonates

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