Use of acid suppressing agents during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring, according to a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

A review of studies had found that children of mothers who were prescribed treatment for acid reflux during pregnancy were more likely to be treated for asthma in childhood. 

Heartburn is commonly experienced in pregnancy due to hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the growing fetus. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) are indicated to treat heartburn and are considered safe to use in pregnancy. Previous research has suggested that use of these agents may increase the risk of allergies in the fetus by impacting the immune system but results have been inconclusive.  

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Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland analyzed 8 studies including >1.3 million children. They reviewed healthcare registries and prescription databases linking information about children and mothers. 

The data revealed offspring born to mothers who were prescribed acid suppressing agents during pregnancy had at least one-third greater likelihood of visiting a doctor for symptoms of asthma. 

Pregnant women should continue to follow existing guidelines and consult with their healthcare provider if symptoms persist. “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,” noted Professor Aziz Sheikh, from the University of Edinburgh. The potential association still warrants further research to determine whether the acid suppressing agents affect the offspring’s health. 

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