Taking some antacids during pregnancy linked to much higher asthma risks, says study

The study looked at 1.6 million people and found a significant correlation.

Taking some antacids during pregnancy linked to much higher asthma risks, says study

Pregnancy has a way of making you feel a warmth deep in your chest. No, this probably isn’t the love in your heart for your unborn child. For four-in-five expectant mothers, it’s something way less enjoyable: heartburn or indigestion.


Unfortunately, a new study raises some red flags over common antacids that can provide that much-needed relief. According to the study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, there is a strong link between prenatal antacid use and the development of childhood asthma.

The report published looked at results from eight population-based studies for a total survey group of 1.6 million participants. They found the risk of childhood asthma increased by 34% when the mother used proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec and Prevacid) and by 57% when the mother used histamine-2 receptor antagonists (such as Pepcid and Zantac) during pregnancy.

“All women should use caution when taking acid-suppressing drugs during pregnancy,” says senior study author Dr. Huahao Shen of Zhejiang University in China in a statement.

The researchers note their study only shows correlation, not causation. Dr. Bronwyn Brew, coauthor of the accompanying editorial and a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, says there is more extensive evidence tying childhood asthma with smoking during pregnancy, maternal weight gain and obesity and maternal stress during pregnancy.

Environmental causes include allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mold, as well as air pollution.

So, what does a pregnant mama do if she needs heartburn relief?

According to doctor-reviewed information published by the University of Michigan School of Medicine, the first course of treatment for pregnant women who struggle with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should be lifestyle changes.

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These suggestions for GERD relief include:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Avoiding lying down for two to three hours after eating
  • Avoiding foods that are spicy, acidic or known agitators, such as chocolate
  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Ceasing smoking or chewing tobacco

Nonprescription antacids such as Rolaids or Tums are also considered safe to take, but those containing sodium bicarbonate should not be taken because they can lead to fluid retention in pregnant women.

As always, it’s best to talk with your health care professional about suggestions for you.

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