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Are Heartburn Meds During Pregnancy Linked to Asthma in Kids?

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jan 9th 2017

new article illustration

MONDAY, Jan. 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Women who take certain heartburn medications during pregnancy may have a child at increased risk of developing asthma, new research suggests.

For the new study, investigators analyzed eight studies that included more than 1.3 million children. The researchers found that kids born to mothers who were prescribed drugs for acid reflux during pregnancy were at least one-third more likely to have been seen by a doctor for asthma symptoms.

Some of the medications come from drug classes that include Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Nexium and Pepcid.

"Our study reports an association between the onset of asthma in children and their mothers' use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy," said researcher Dr. Aziz Sheikh. He's co-director of the Asthma UK Center for Applied Research, at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

"It is important to stress that this association does not prove that the medicines caused asthma in these children and further research is needed to better understand this link," Sheikh added.

The study was published online Jan. 9 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Drugs called H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors can help treat acid reflux. They're considered safe for use by pregnant women because studies have found they don't affect fetal development, the researchers said in a journal news release.

According to Samantha Walker, director of policy and research at Asthma UK, "It is important to stress that this research is at a very early stage and expectant [mothers] should continue to take any medication they need under the guidance of their doctor or nurse."

Walker noted in the news release that the researchers "don't yet know if the heartburn medication itself is contributing to the development of asthma in children, or if there is a common factor we haven't discovered yet that causes both heartburn in pregnant women and asthma in their children."

The study authors advised that pregnant women should follow existing guidelines to use the medicines as required and consult with a doctor or nurse if heartburn symptoms persist.

More information

The American Pregnancy Association has more about heartburn during pregnancy.