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Can J Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr;23(4):270-2.

The effect of heartburn and acid reflux on the severity of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

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The Motherisk Program, The Hospital for Sick Children; University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Heartburn (HB) and acid reflux (RF) in the nonpregnant population can cause nausea and vomiting; therefore, it is plausible that in women with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), HB/RF may increase the severity of symptoms.


To determine whether HB/RF during pregnancy contribute to increased severity of NVP.


A prospectively collected cohort of women who were experiencing NVP and HB, RF or both (n=194) was studied. The Pregnancy-Unique Quantification of Emesis and Nausea (PUQE) scale and its Well-being scale was used to compare the severity of the study cohort's symptoms. This cohort was compared with a group of women experiencing NVP but no HB/RF (n=188). Multiple linear regression was used to control for the effects of confounding factors.


Women with HB/RF reported higher PUQE scores (9.6+/-2.6) compared with controls (8.9+/-2.6) (P=0.02). Similarly, Well-being scores for women experiencing HB/RF were lower (4.3+/-2.1) compared with controls (4.9+/-2.0) (P=0.01). Multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated that increased PUQE scores (P=0.003) and decreased Well-being scores (P=0.005) were due to the presence of HB/RF as opposed to confounding factors such as pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions/symptoms, hyperemesis gravidarum in previous pregnancies and comorbidities.


The present cohort study is the first to demonstrate that HB/RF are associated with increased severity of NVP. Managing HB/RF may improve the severity of NVP.

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