Ideally, medications are used in strict accordance with their labeling. Children are not part of the prescription group Reglan is authorized to include, so in most cases it seems irrelevant to consider them when evaluating the potential harm this medication can do — and is doing. However, factors present in childhood can contribute to other events later in life, and the current obesity epidemic among American youth could lead to an unexpected explosion of Reglan-related side effects.
Obesity is seen as a key indicator in the development of Gastro Enterological Reflux Disease (GERD). Characterized by symptoms of frequent, persistent and often intense heartburn and acid indigestion, GERD is one of the conditions Reglan was developed to treat.
While Reglan might not be directly prescribed to children in most circumstances, GERD developed in childhood can and does persist into adulthood, leading to later necessity of prescriptions to bring it under control. Further, the longer someone has GERD, the less likely it becomes that the condition will respond entirely to treatment and go away. This means doctors are more likely to bend the guidelines on length of treatment, since GERD is a painful and disruptive condition. One of the key indicators in the later development of Tardive Dyskinesia from Reglan prescription is just this sort of overprescription past the limiting time.
Further, if an obese child patient doesn’t respond to other medications to bring GERD under control, doctors may resort to Reglan as a last resort in an effort to provide some relief. This, too, exposes a younger population to a risk of Tardive Dyskinesia, albeit with good intentions in mind.
The obesity epidemic is just one example of this sort of mindset limiting the process of medicine. Issues must be looked at holistically, rather than in separated and isolated incidents that aren’t looked at in relation to each other.