Pregnancy involves a lot of symptoms and discomforts every woman endures for their baby. One of them is heartburn, a discomfort characterized by a burning sensation in the chest. It happens because progesterone, the hormone that relaxes muscles in pregnancy, also relaxes the muscles that prevent acid from entering the esophagus. Plus, a growing uterus leaves little space for the stomach so it pushes the acid back up.
Preggy moms address this nasty symptom by eating small portions and avoiding certain foods. Some pregnant women turn to antacids. Under the newly updated guidelines of the World Health Organization, antacids are not supposed to cause harm, but preggos are advised to take it two hours after you have had your iron and folic acid supplements. Antacids can make it hard to absorb the said mineral and vitamin if it is taken earlier.
Now, researchers from the universities of Edinburg and Tapere in Finland looked at eight previous studies that closely monitored over 1.3 million children and how antacids taken by their mothers during pregnancy affected their immune systems. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the new large-scale study revealed that one-third of kids whose moms took heartburn medication during pregnancy was more likely to develop symptoms of asthma.
In the study, acid-blockingdrugs such as H2 blockers (Pepcid or Tagamet) raised the risk of asthma by 46 percent, and proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec or Nexium) were linked to a 30 percent increase in risk. Previous research has linked antacids to an increased risk for developing allergies because of the effects it can cause to one's immune system.
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However, Dr. Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the Asthma U.K. Centre for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the study, said via a statement that the results of this new study do not prove that the medicines cause asthma in the kids. "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," Sheikh stresses.
"We don't yet know if the heartburn medication itself is contributing to the development of asthma in children or if there is a common factor we haven't discovered yet that causes both heartburn in pregnant women and asthma in their children," added Dr. Samantha Walker, director of policy and research at Asthma U.K.
The study is in the early stages, but it highlights the need to further investigate the causes of asthma. According to the Global Asthma Report 2014, more than 330 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with an especially high incidence in low- and middle-income countries -- the Philippines included.
No mom-to-be wants to take anything that could be harmful to their unborn baby. If you feel you are experiencing heartburn symptoms, talk to your doctor on the natural remedy you can take. Some of his suggestions may include the following.
Overeating is a no-no. Try to keep your weight gain within pregnancy limits. Obesity increases your risk for heartburn.
Instead of eating three big meals, have several small meals throughout the day, and take your time eating and chew thoroughly. Drink lots of water.
Avoid food that could trigger an acid indigestion such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
Chewing gum after eating could help. Chewing stimulates saliva production and can help neutralize acid.
Wait two to three hours after eating before you lie down or go to bed. Prop your upper body with pillows or a wedge to help keep acid in the stomach. Also try to sleep on your left side.
No smoking. Smoking boost stomach acidity and, hello, you're pregnant! Smoking can cause serious ill effects to your unborn baby.
But if you feel like you really need medication for acid reflux, it’s crucial that you consult your doctor about it.