Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, such as Prilosec® (omeprazole) and Nexium® (esomeprazole) are used to treat peptic-acid disorders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease (PUD), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced gastropathy and chronic heartburn.
While PPIs are quite effective at banishing unwanted stomach acid, they've also been linked to a number of serious health problems, such as kidney disease and stroke. Additionally, a recent study from the Universities of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland found a link between PPI use during pregnancy and an increased risk of certain health problems for the child. While the study is far from conclusive, it does raise a number of questions about the safety of PPI medications.
PPI and Childhood Asthma Risk
Pregnancy comes with a wide range of uncomfortable and undesirable side effects, from swollen feet to painful, around-the-clock heartburn. For some women, the heartburn is so bad that it interferes with sleep or makes eating a challenge. In these cases, doctors may prescribe a PPI like Prilosec or Nexium for the duration of the pregnancy.
However, this practice may increase the risk of having a child born with health problems, such as asthma, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland. For the study, which was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers reviewed studies containing the health data of more than 1.6 million patients, which led them to discover a link between the use of heartburn medications during pregnancy and an increased risk of asthma in the child.
According to the study, children who were born to mothers who used PPI medications during their pregnancy were 30 percent more likely to develop childhood asthma, and also had an increased risk of developing skin allergies.
PPIs weren't the only heartburn medications the study related to health problems in children. H2 blockers, such as Pepcid®, which are generally considered safer than PPIs, were linked to a 46 percent increased risk of child asthma.
Correlation, Not Causation
While the researchers aren't sure why heartburn medicines increased the risk of childhood asthma, they speculated that perhaps, these drugs interfere with digestion, allowing undigested allergens to pass to the fetus.
The researchers were also quick to point out that the study doesn't prove that PPIs or H2 blockers cause asthma in children, and that more research is needed before they can arrive at a definitive conclusion.
In the meantime, they encouraged pregnant women to continue taking all their prescribed medications and to talk to their doctor about alternative heartburn treatments, such as chewable antacids, if they were concerned.
PPIs Also Linked to Kidney Disease and Other Health Problems
Several previous studies have found links between PPI use—particularly long-term PPI use—and kidney disease. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, patients taking PPI drugs were 28 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than their H2-blocker taking counterparts. While researchers and doctors aren't quite sure exactly how PPI use contributes to kidney disease and failure, they speculate it may have something to do with inflammation, which is a side effect of PPI treatment.
Additionally, a 2011 German study found a link between long-term PPI use and a substantial increase in dementia risks. In 2015, a study conducted by the Stanford School of Medicine discovered a connection between PPI use and a 20 percent increase in the risk of heart attack. A 2016 Danish Heart Foundation study found that Prevacid® (lansoprazole) increased the risk of stroke by 30 percent, while patients who took Protonix® (pantoprazole) were 94 percent more likely to suffer a stroke.
Did You Experience Serious PPI Side Effects or Complications?
If you've experienced serious PPI-related health problems, such as chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the drug's manufacturer. Contact the McGartland Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free case consultation. Our skilled legal team can help you explore your options and fight for whatever compensation you deserve.