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Summary

Heartburn is a normal consequence of pregnancy. The predominant aetiology is a decrease in lower oesophageal sphincter pressure caused by female sex hormones, especially progesterone. Serious reflux complications during pregnancy are rare; hence upper endoscopy and other diagnostic tests are infrequently needed. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease during pregnancy should be managed with a step-up algorithm beginning with lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. Antacids or sucralfate are considered the first-line drug therapy. If symptoms persist, any of the histamine2-receptor antagonists can be used. Proton pump inhibitors are reserved for women with intractable symptoms or complicated reflux disease. All but omeprazole are FDA category B drugs during pregnancy. Most drugs are excreted in breast milk. Of systemic agents, only the histamine2-receptor antagonists, with the exception of nizatidine, are safe to use during lactation.