Background: Gestational reflux is common, affecting up to 80% of pregnant women. Most symptoms will abate during lactation. During both of these periods, interventions used to relieve symptoms focus on a "step-up" methodology with progressive intensification of treatment. This begins with lifestyle modifications.
Aim: To provide guidance in the treatment of reflux in pregnancy and lactation, as well as briefly summarising the pathogenesis, clinical presentation and diagnostic workup.
Methods: A comprehensive search, using online databases PubMed and MEDLINE, along with relevant manuscripts published in English between 1966 and 2019 was used. All abstracts were screened, potentially relevant articles were researched, and bibliographies were reviewed.
Results: Only a small percentage of relevant drugs are contraindicated for use in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. However, not all drug agents have been extensively evaluated in pregnant women or during the breastfeeding period. Antacids, alginates, and sucralfate are the first-line therapeutic agents. If symptoms persist, any of the H2 RAs can be used except for nizatidine (due to foetal teratogenicity or harm in animal studies). PPIs are reserved for women with intractable symptoms or complicated GERD; all are FDA category B drugs, except for omeprazole, which is a category C drug.
Conclusions: The management of heartburn during pregnancy and lactation begins with lifestyle modifications. In situations where disease severity increases, medical providers must discuss risks and benefits of these medicines with the patient in detail.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.