Can my baby take Zantac?
Zantac is the name brand for ranitidine and is used to treat symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. Ranitidine is a histamine-2 receptor blockers (H2-blocker) that reduces the amount of acid that the cells in your stomach produce. It is a common over the counter treatment used by people with frequent heartburn and, in adults, can safely be taken daily as a preventative measure.
But is Zantac safe to give to your baby? The answer is not as straightforward as yes or no. Over the counter Zantac is not safe for children under four years of age, but there is a prescription syrup form of Zantac that is safe for babies as young as one month of age.
1. Your baby should not take Zantac tablets or pills
It is not safe for you to give your baby even a reduced dosage of the Zantac pills or tablets that you can buy over the counter. Zantac in tablet form is not recommended for children under the age of 4 due to issues with dosage and a potential choking hazard. You should never give your baby over the counter medicines that are not specifically made for children without discussing it with your pediatrician first.
2. Zantac syrup is designed for children one month to 14 years
Your doctor can prescribe a Zantac syrup that is safe for children. Chemically, the syrup that your doctor prescribes is identical to the tablets you can get OTC but it is not possible to get the correct dosage with the tablets. The correct dosage is determined by the weight of the person taking it and because your baby requires a much smaller dosage than an adult the syrup can be given with much more precision and is the only safe way for your baby to take the drug. This syrup is available by prescription only.
3. Zantac is a good treatment for acid reflux in babies
A vast majority of babies suffer from some kind of acid reflux in the first year or so of their lives. If your baby is spitting up because of acid reflux then using an acid reducer such as Zantac is an option. Zantac is safe to use to treat ongoing symptoms of acid reflux in children and adults. Because you can’t adjust your baby’s diet to try and reduce symptoms, especially before you are able to introduce solid foods, you and your doctor might decide that Zantac is a good solution for your baby.
4. Be careful to give the correct dosage
Ensuring that you are giving the right dosage of any medicine is important. Reading the recommended dosage on medicine for babies can be difficult and overdosing is all too common. There are ways to minimize the risk, however. Never use household spoons and cups to measure medicine doses. There are medicine syringes that are designed for babies that will let you give the precise dosage. You can get these from your doctor or local pharmacy.
5. Keep notes about what medicines and when your baby receives doses
It can be difficult to keep up with when and what medicine your baby should be receiving. Especially in a home with multiple primary caregivers it can be difficult to keep track of what medicine your baby has been given, when it was given, and when the next dose should be. Keeping a schedule and having anyone who gives a dose mark it off is a good way to ensure that your baby doesn’t ever receive more than they are supposed to and that no doses are missed during the day. This is especially useful when your baby is sick and may be taking more than one medicine to help.
6. Poison Control should be your first call if you overdose
If you ever think that your baby may have been overdosed with any medicine call Poison Control first. Unless your baby is showing signs of physical distress calling Poison Control before heading to the emergency room is a good idea. In the case of ranitidine an overdose is usually not a major health risk, just don’t make it a habit. Even in cases where babies have been given 10 times the recommended dose accidentally (7mL instead of .7ml for example) the baby has been just fine. Poison Control can advise you whether to seek emergency medical help immediately or to monitor your baby’s condition and will usually save you a time consuming and costly trip to the ER.Poison Control is staffed by experts that can advise you. Poison Control’s phone number is 1-800-222-1222 and can be reached 24/7.
7. Be aware of FDA recommendations
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a statement concerning ranitidine. The FDA identified a component of ranitidine that is a probable human carcinogen. This means that it could potentially cause cancer eventually. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is found in ranitidine, including Zantac pills, tablets, and syrups, that could potentially cause health issues in individuals that take ranitidine long term. However, the FDA has not recommended that patients stop taking Zantac at this time and there is not as of yet any definitive proof that NDMA is dangerous. NDMA is a known contaminant that is found in many food and drinks as well, including water, dairy, meats, and vegetables (https://www.mother.ly/news/is-zantac-safe-for-pregnancy-babies).
Zantac is a good choice for parents that are looking for a treatment for acid reflux and heartburn in their children aged one month and up. It is important to consult your pediatrician and only to use prescription Zantac syrup and not over the counter tablets or pills to ensure that your baby receives the correct dosage. Zantac is also safe for pregnant or nursing mothers to take for their own acid reflux or heartburn symptoms. Always ensure that you are giving your baby the correct dosage as instructed by your pediatrician.