LONDON, Jan 10: Mothers-to-be, take note! Taking heartburn medication during pregnancy may put your babies at a greater risk of developing asthma, a new study has warned.
Researchers from University of Edinburgh in the UK and University of Tampere in Finland found that babies whose mothers had been prescribed with medicines to treat acid reflux during pregnancy were more likely to be treated for asthma in childhood.
However, experts say the potential link – which came to light by reviewing studies that had examined health records – is not conclusive.
They said that the association could be caused by a separate, linked factor and that further research is needed to determine whether the medicines affect the health of children.
Heartburn is caused by stomach acid passing from the stomach back into the oesophagus.
The condition is very common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the growing womb.
Drugs called H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors can help to block this acid reflux.
They are considered safe to use in pregnancy because they do not affect development of the baby.
Scientists had previously suggested that use of these medicines may increase the risk of allergies in the unborn baby through impacting on the immune system. Studies to investigate a link have been inconclusive.
They reviewed eight previous studies involving more than 1.3 million children.
The research had examined healthcare registries and prescription databases linking information about both mothers and children.
They found that children born to mothers who had been prescribed acid-blocking drugs during pregnancy were at least one third more likely to have visited a doctor for symptoms of asthma.
“Our study reports an association between the onset of asthma in children and their mothers’ use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, from the University of Edinburgh.
“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,” he said.
The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (AGENCIES)