When Pregnant, Common Heartburn Medicines Pose Little Risk For Birth Defects

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) have not been shown to increase birth defect risk

Common heartburn medicine, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), has shown no evidence of increasing birth defects when taken during pregnancy, a new Danish study explains.

While this large study found no data supporting the dangers of the medicine, researchers stress the importance of gathering additional information to determine just how safe it would be to take PPIs while pregnant.

For the study, more than 840,000 births were examined between January 1996 and September 2008. Research can be found in the New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM.

Heartburn is a very common symptom during pregnancy, and many women turn to common medicines to help ease the pain.

The most popular medicines are omeprazole, esomeprazole, and lansoprazole.

Researchers analyzed prescription data in relation to birth defects. Women were analyzed in two groups: those who used PPIs for the entire first trimester, including 4 weeks prior, and those using PPIs for the entire first trimester.

Results from the study showed 2.6 percent of more than 840,000 babies to have birth defects, and 3.4 percent of babies from mothers who used PPIs four weeks prior to conception had a major defect compared to only 2.6 percent of the babies from the other group.

Researchers conclude the usage of proton-pump inhibitors did not appear to increase the risk of birth defects.