Heartburn is a common symptom during pregnancy. New research suggests, however, that pregnant women who relieve their reflux with potent acid-suppressing drugs may precipitate unexpected complications for their babies. In fact, they may give birth to babies with asthma (Lai et al, Pediatrics, online Jan. 11, 2018).
Acid-Suppressing Drugs During Pregnancy:
Both proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid) and histamine-2 blockers such as famotidine (Pepcid) or ranitidine (Zantac) were associated with a greater risk of asthma in the infants. These findings came from a meta-analysis of eight studies, but none of the studies were randomized controlled trials of acid-suppressing medications. Rather, they were based on medical records of pregnant women.
Children and Babies with Asthma:
The analysis revealed that babies born to women who took PPIs during the pregnancy were about one-third more likely to develop asthma in childhood. Those who took histamine blockers were 57 percent more likely to give birth to a child who later developed asthma. These are relative risks. (The absolute risks are not provided in the study.)
The investigators recommend that women who suffer with heartburn during pregnancy might want to consider other options for heartburn relief. Learn more about non-drug approaches in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.