Background: Recent data in mice suggest that acid suppression during pregnancy yields offspring with type 2 T helper-dominant immunity, suggesting a predisposition for allergy.
Objective: To determine the association of in utero exposure to acid-suppressive medications and the subsequent development of allergic diseases in children.
Methods: We studied a population-based observational cohort formed by linking data from three Swedish national healthcare registers: the Medical Birth Register, the Hospital Discharge Register, and the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. Main outcome measures included a hospital discharge diagnosis of an allergic disease or prescription for asthma medications, epinephrine auto-injectors, antihistamines or steroid ointments in children. Data were analysed using the Mantel-Haenszel procedure.
Results: Twenty-nine thousand four hundred and ninety (5.03%) children had a discharge diagnosis of allergy or prescriptions for allergy medications. Five thousand six hundred and forty-five (0.96%) children had been exposed to acid suppression therapy during pregnancy; of these, 405 (0.07%) were treated for allergic diseases. Exposure to acid-suppressive medications in utero was associated with an increased odds ratio (OR) for developing allergy (OR 1.43, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.29-1.59). We observed this association irrespective of the type of drug, time of exposure during pregnancy, and maternal history of allergy. The use of maternal acid-suppressive medication was associated with an increased OR for the development of childhood asthma (3.7% in the population at large vs. 5.6% in exposed children, OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.35-1.69), but not for other allergic diseases.
Conclusion: These data provide first evidence of a significant association between in utero exposure to acid-suppressive drugs and the risk of developing childhood asthma.