Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Acid-Suppressive Medications and Risk of Allergic Diseases in Children

JAMA Pediatr. 2023 Mar 1;177(3):267-277. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.5193.


Importance: Existing observational data have indicated positive associations of acid-suppressive medication (ASM) use in prenatal and early life with allergic diseases in children; however, no study to date has accounted for confounding by indication or within-familial factors.

Objective: To evaluate the association of prenatal or infant exposure to ASMs with risk of allergic diseases in children.

Design, setting, and participants: This nationwide, cohort study included data from South Korea's National Health Insurance Service mother-child-linked database from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2020. Participants included mother-child pairs of neonates born from April 1, 2008, to December 31, 2019.

Exposures: Prenatal and infant exposure to ASMs (histamine 2 receptor antagonists [H2RAs] and proton pump inhibitors [PPIs]).

Main outcomes and measures: Composite and individual outcomes of allergic diseases (asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and food allergy) in children (followed up to 13 years of age) were assessed. The ASM-exposed individuals were compared with unexposed individuals in propensity score (PS)-matched and sibling-matched analyses to control for various potential confounders and within-familial factors. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results: The study included 4 149 257 mother-child pairs. Prenatal exposure analyses included 808 067 PS-matched pairs (763 755 received H2RAs, 36 529 received PPIs) among women with a mean (SD) age of 31.8 (4.2) years. The PS-matched HR was 1.01 (95% CI, 1.01-1.02) for allergic diseases overall (asthma: HR, 1.02 [95% CI, 1.01-1.03]; allergic rhinitis: HR, 1.02 [95% CI, 1.01-1.02]; atopic dermatitis: HR, 1.02 [95% CI, 1.01-1.02]; food allergy: HR, 1.03 [95% CI, 0.98-1.07]); in sibling-matched analyses, the HRs were similar to those of PS-matched analyses but were not significant (allergic diseases: HR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.997-1.01). Infant exposure analyses included 84 263 PS-matched pairs (74 188 received H2RAs, 7496 received PPIs). The PS-matched HR was 1.06 (95% CI, 1.05-1.07) for allergic diseases overall (asthma: HR, 1.16 [95% CI, 1.14-1.18]; allergic rhinitis: HR, 1.02 [95% CI, 1.01-1.03]; atopic dermatitis: HR, 1.05 [95% CI, 1.02-1.08]; food allergy: HR, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.10-1.49]); asthma risk (HR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.09-1.17) remained significantly higher among children exposed to ASMs during infancy in sibling-matched analyses. The findings were similar for H2RAs and PPIs analyzed separately and were robust across all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions and relevance: The findings of this cohort study suggest that there is no association between prenatal exposure to ASMs and allergic diseases in offspring. However, infant exposure to ASMs was associated with a higher risk of developing asthma, although the magnitude was more modest than previously reported. Clinicians should carefully weigh the benefits of prescribing ASMs to children, accompanied by subsequent close monitoring for any clinically relevant safety signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / chemically induced
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity*
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / epidemiology
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Rhinitis, Allergic*


  • Histamine H2 Antagonists
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors