By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
January 10, 2017
Taking heartburn medicines during pregnancy may increase the risk for asthma in the baby, a review of studies has found.
The analysis, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, combined data from eight studies that included more than 1.6 million patients. Follow-up ranged from five to 14 years.
Researchers found that H2 blockers, such as Pepcid or Tagamet, were associated with a 46 percent increased risk for childhood asthma. Taking proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec or Nexium, was linked to a 30 percent increase in risk. There was also some data suggesting an increased risk for skin allergies.
The reason for the connection is unclear, but animal studies suggest the drugs may interfere with digestion, leaving undigested food allergens that are then passed on to the fetus.
None of the studies accounted for all of the many factors that may influence asthma onset, and the authors acknowledge that no causal connection can be proven.
“Gastric reflux is common in pregnancy,” said the lead author, Dr. Aziz Sheikh, a professor of primary care at the University of Edinburgh, “and in the majority of women, it can be managed with lifestyle or diet changes.”
Where medicine is required, he said, “Milder treatments like chewable antacid tablets are the preferred option.”