Prescription heartburn medication taken during pregnancy is linked to asthma in children, new research has suggested.
Analysis of eight studies involving 1.3 million children revealed that those whose mothers were prescribed drugs to deal with acid reflux in pregnancy were more likely to be treated for asthma in childhood.
Acid-suppressive medications, such as H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors, can help to block the acid reflux and are considered safe to use because they do not affect the development of the baby.
The researchers, from the Universities of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland, had examined healthcare registries and prescription databases linking information about both mothers and children.
The team found that children born to mothers who had been prescribed acid-blocking drugs during pregnancy were at least a third more likely to have visited a doctor for symptoms of asthma.
However, researchers said the potential link 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.
The researchers added that advice for expectant mothers should stay unchanged, but further studies are needed.
Dr Samantha Walker, director of policy and research at Asthma UK, said: ‘It is important to stress that this research is at a very early stage and expectant mums should continue to take any medication they need under the guidance of their doctor or nurse.’
The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.