Heartburn drugs during pregnancy may increase childs risk of asthma

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A University of Edinburgh study has found that women who use heartburn medication in pregnancy were more likely to have children who developed asthma.

Researchers reviewed eight previous studies of more than 1.3 million children using healthcare registries and prescription databases.

The team, led by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of Tampere in Finland, found that children born to mothers who used prescribed heartburn medications were one-third more likely to seek treatment for asthma symptoms.

Heartburn and acid reflux are common in pregnancy because of hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the growing baby.

Medications used to treat heartburn and reflux, called H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors, block the stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus and causing symptoms.

"Our study reports an association between the onset of asthma in children and their mothers' use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy," Professor Aziz Shelkh, co-director of the Asthma UK Center for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release. "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."

Researchers said the findings could be caused by a separate, link factor and the findings are inconclusive.

"It is important to stress that this research is at a very early stage and expectant mums should continue to take any medications they need under the guidance of their doctor or nurse," Dr. Samantha Walker, director of Policy and Research at Asthma UK, said in a press release. "We don't know yet if the heartburn medication itself is contributing to the development of asthma in children, or if there is common factor we haven't discovered yet that causes both heartburn in pregnant women and asthma in their children."

The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Amy Wallace


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