New research suggests that pregnant woman who are taking heartburn medication may be increasing the risk of their child developing asthma, according to Science Daily.
When a pregnant woman reaches her third trimester, it is not uncommon to experience heartburn, which is “caused by stomach acid passing from the stomach back into the esophagus,” due to the “hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the growing womb.”
Physicians will often prescribe an acid reflux medicine as a heartburn treatment, but a recent study showed that it may be linked to childhood asthma.
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland recently analyzed eight cases involving 1.3 million children, and it was discovered that pregnant women who take heartburn medication for acid reflux increases the risk of their child developing asthma.
It was reported that some medication for acid reflux “comes from a drug class that includes Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Nexium and Pepcid.”
A professor from the University of Edinburgh, Aziz Sheikh said, “Our study reports an association between the onset of asthma in children and their mothers’ use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy.”
“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.”
Dr. Samantha Walker, who is the director of policy and research at Asthma UK, added, “It is important to stress that this research is at a very early stage and expectant moms should continue to take any medication they need under the guidance of their doctor or nurse.”
“We 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.”
Walker went on to say that “the study points us towards something that needs further investigation which is why we need to see more research carried out into the causes of asthma, a condition that affects 5.4 million people in the UK alone.”
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are natural ways to relieve heartburn symptoms, such as eating yogurt or drinking a glass of milk. You can also add a tablespoon of honey into a glass of warm milk.
Over the counter medications for heartburn are available but it is advised that pregnant women consult with a doctor or nurse before taking them.
Pregnant women can also try avoiding heartburn by executing the following:
- “Eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals
- Wait an hour after eating to lie down
- Avoid spicy, greasy, and fatty foods”
Experts say pregnant women who continue to have heartburn issues have the option to take drugs that will not affect the unborn baby’s development or future health, such as “H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors.”
Although those two agents may not be linked to childhood asthma, researchers have shown some concern in the past, stating that if pregnant women take those acid-suppressive medications, the risk of their child developing an allergic disease may be increased.
However, recent studies show that those results are inconclusive.
Jean Golding, who is an emeritus professor of pediatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol, stated that “it may be that the heartburn in itself may be the most important association rather than the drugs used to treat it.”
Expectant mothers should not change their heartburn medications based on these findings as the research is at an early stage, and the claim needs more studies, according to experts.
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