HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY: EXPERTS SHARE BENEFITS, RISKS AND ALTERNATIVES TO PEPCID

Heartburn is a common issue during pregnancy, causing discomfort and distress for many expectant mothers, due to hormonal changes and the growing uterus putting pressure on the stomach. As discomfort rises, so searches for effective and safe remedies. Enter Pepcid (famotidine), a commonly recommended medication known for its ability to alleviate heartburn by reducing stomach acid production. Pepcid is an H2 blocker that reduces stomach acid production, commonly used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. Many pregnant women experience increased acid reflux, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. But is it safe to have it during pregnancy? We got in touch with health experts who explains, the risks, benefits and alternatives to pepcids.

Is Pepcid Safe For Use During Pregnancy?

Dr Anjali Kumar, Director - Obstetrics and Gynecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram shares pepcid is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. “It is classified as a Category B medication by the FDA, meaning that animal studies have not shown any risk to the fetus, but there are no well-controlled studies in pregnant women. However, it should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider,” she said.

Potential Benefits And Risks Of Taking Pepcid During Pregnancy

Dr Neelam Suri, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital New Delhi shares potential benefits of taking Pepcid during pregnancy including:

- Effective relief from heartburn,

- Acid reflux, and

- Indigestion, which can be particularly troublesome during pregnancy.

“These symptoms can cause significant discomfort and interfere with sleep and nutrition, potentially affecting maternal well-being and, indirectly, fetal health. By reducing stomach acid production, Pepcid can alleviate these symptoms, improving quality of life and potentially aiding in maintaining proper nutrition,” she said.

As per Dr Neelam Suri, the risks associated with Pepcid use during pregnancy are generally considered low.

- Animal studies have not shown evidence of harm to the fetus, and human studies have not demonstrated significant adverse effects.

- However, as with any medication, there's always a potential for unforeseen risks or individual adverse reactions. Some possible concerns include the theoretical risk of reduced absorption of nutrients due to decreased stomach acid, although this hasn't been definitively proven.

- There are also limited long-term data on fetal outcomes. It's crucial to use Pepcid only as prescribed and to inform your healthcare provider of any concerns or side effects.

Any Specific Trimesters During Which Pepcid Is Safer Or More Risky To Use?

Dr Neelam Suri shares, that the current medical evidence doesn't suggest that the safety of Pepcid (famotidine) varies significantly across different trimesters of pregnancy.

- In the first trimester, when major organ development occurs, there's generally more caution with any medication use. Having said that, studies haven't shown increased risk with first-trimester use of Pepcid.

- In the second and third trimesters, Pepcid is often considered safe when needed, as major organ development is complete. Interestingly, the need for Pepcid often increases in later pregnancy as heartburn and acid reflux symptoms tend to worsen due to the growing uterus putting pressure on the stomach.

- While Pepcid is considered relatively safe throughout pregnancy, the general medical approach is to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration necessary, regardless of the trimester. Always consult with your healthcare provider about the appropriate timing and duration of Pepcid use during your specific pregnancy.

Are There Safer Or More Effective Alternatives To Pepcid For Managing Acid Reflux Or Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Dr Neelam explains that while Pepcid is considered relatively safe during pregnancy, there are several alternatives for managing acid reflux or heartburn that pregnant women should try:

- Lifestyle and dietary changes are typically the first lines of defence. These include eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding trigger foods like spicy, fatty, or acidic items; not lying down immediately after eating; and elevating the head of the bed.

- Wearing loose-fitting clothing and maintaining good posture can also help. For medication alternatives, calcium carbonate antacids (like Tums) are often considered the safest option during pregnancy. These work by neutralizing stomach acid rather than reducing its production.

- Another option is sucralfate, which forms a protective coating in the stomach and oesophagus. Some doctors may recommend other H2 blockers like ranitidine, although its availability has been limited due to recent FDA concerns.

- In severe cases, proton pump inhibitors might be considered, but these are typically reserved for when other treatments fail.

“Always consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate and safest treatment plan for your situation,” she said.

Potential Side Effects Of Pepcid In Pregnant Women

Dr Anjali Kumar explains that while Pepcid (famotidine) is generally well-tolerated during pregnancy, it can potentially cause side effects in some women. Common side effects of Pepcid can include:

- Headache

- Dizziness

- Constipation or diarrhoea

- Fatigue,

- Muscle pain, or

- Skin rashes

“In rare cases, more serious side effects such as irregular heartbeat, jaundice, or severe allergic reactions can occur,” she said.

Are There Any Long-Term Effects On The Baby If The Mother Takes Pepcid During Pregnancy?

Dr Anjali Kumar shares that there is limited data on the long-term effects of taking Pepcid during pregnancy on the baby. Current evidence suggests that it is unlikely to cause significant harm, but more research is needed to fully understand any potential long-term impacts.

2024-07-05T12:49:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd