If you’ve ever suffered through heartburn while pregnant you’ll know just how painful and frustrating it can be. But mums-to-be are being warned that there’s a potential link between acid reflux medication during pregnancy and babies developing asthma.
New research has found that babies born to mums who took heartburn medication while pregnant may be at a greater risk of getting asthma.
Women told not to panic
University of Edinburgh researchers uncovered the potential link after reviewing existing studies, but say it’s not conclusive.
“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,” explained Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, University of Edinburgh.
They’re advising pregnant women to follow existing guidelines and check in with their doctor if symptoms persist.
Heartburn in pregnancy
While the old wives’ tale says if you have heartburn while pregnant your baby will have loads of hair, the truth is that it’s caused by stomach acid passing from the stomach back into the oesophagus.
The reason that heartburn is so common in pregnancy is because the hormone that relaxes muscles while you’re expecting also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps the acid down.
Medications called H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors that can help block acid reflux are considered safe to use in pregnancy, because they don’t impact the development of the baby.
This new research reviewed eight previous studies involving more than one million children, and found that children born to mums who had been prescribed these drugs during pregnancy were a third more likely to have visited a doctor for asthma symptoms. The research is set to continue.
Make sure you read through our nutritionist’s tips on coping with heartburn in pregnancy. We’ve also recently featured a study on the link between vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and autism in children.