Ever feel like you’re breathing fire? Familiar with that intense burn in your chest? If so, you may have turned to over-the-counter drug relief to minimize the occurrence of pregnancy-related heartburn. Unfortunately, there may be one medication that you’ll need to avoid.
Zantac, a histamine blocker frequently recommended to expectant mothers experiencing intense heartburn, recently went through a massive recall. Known by the generic name ranitidine, the drug tested positive for low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a cancer-causing contaminant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have linked the ingestion and inhalation of NDMA to liver disease, liver cancer, and lung cancer in lab rats in former studies.
This same contaminant can be found in almost everything you come into contact with – meat, water, vegetables, and dairy products – but the levels are generally too low to cause any real damage. The same could be said for Zantac, particularly when it comes to non-pregnant users.
Levels in the OTC drug “barely exceed the amounts you might expect to find in common foods,” per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And they say it is highly unlikely that the drug would cause the same effects in humans as in lab animals, but still, expectant mothers are being encouraged to stay away from Zantac – at least for now.
The major concern is that a mother’s body may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of NDMA. Her baby may also be at risk. Of course, all medications come with risks, so health experts encourage mothers to try natural approaches first.
Such options include minimizing heartburn-inducing foods – anything fatty, greasy, spicy, or acidic. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and sitting upright for a couple of hours after eating could help as well.
If these methods aren’t effective, as Carafate (a prescription ulcer medication) or antacids that do not contain aspirin (i.e. Gaviscon, Tums, and Mylanta) if they can’t kick their heartburn using natural methods. Mothers should also be cautious when using “homeopathic” options like baking soda and water, as too much of this concoction could be bad for you and baby.
How do you beat heartburn during pregnancy? We’d love to hear what works for you.