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Gastroesophageal reflux disease in pregnancy.

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  • 1University College Hospital, Galway, Ireland.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease during pregnancy is common. Altered structure and function of the normal physiological barriers to reflux of gastric contents into the oesophagus explain the high incidence of this problem in pregnant women. For the majority of patients, life-style modifications are helpful, but are not sufficient to control symptoms and medication is required. The optimum management of reflux in pregnant patients requires special attention and expertise, since the safety of the mother, foetus and neonate remain the primary focus. Gastroenterologists and obstetricians should work together to optimise treatment. Typically, one utilises a step-up program that starts with life-style modifications and antacids. If those methods fail, histamine-2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors are tried. Rarely, promotility agents are used. Initiation of these medications must be undertaken after a careful discussion of risks and benefits with patients. In patients without a prior history of reflux, symptoms usually abate after delivery.

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