Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) used to reduce acid production in the stomach, thereby treating medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. There are not enough studies to conclusively say whether using omeprazole in pregnancy is safe or unsafe. Some animal studies done on using omeprazole in pregnancy resulted in unfavorable outcomes, with the medication affecting the unborn baby. On the other hand, past use of omeprazole in pregnancy with humans include a one-time dose administered prior to labor with no adverse results. In these cases, the administration of omeprazole was to prevent Mendelson’s syndrome from occurring.
As the safety of using omeprazole in pregnancy is unknown, pregnant women, or women who plan on becoming pregnant, should consult with a doctor before using the medication. It is important to do so because the medication could cause potential harm to the unborn baby. A doctor will be able to diagnose the pregnant woman’s medical condition and ascertain whether using omeprazole in pregnancy is absolutely necessary. Depending on the severity of the woman’s condition, if the doctor thinks that the medication’s benefits will outweigh any potential risks, he or she will consider it okay for the woman to use the medication during pregnancy.
Similar to how there is no conclusive evidence of the safety or danger of using omeprazole in pregnancy, there is little knowledge about using omeprazole during breastfeeding. Since there is a risk that the medication might pass into breast milk, the general advice is to not breastfeed while using omeprazole because doing so might negatively affect the baby. Again, the decision to use or not use the medication depends on the mother’s health. If the mother definitely needs to use omeprazole, instead of not taking the medication, perhaps she should continue to use it and stop breastfeeding.
While using omeprazole in pregnancy or during breastfeeding depends on the effects it will have on the baby, it is also important to remember that the medication can affect the mother as well. One of the risks of using omeprazole is the potential for developing a bone fracture in the hip, spine or wrist. In addition, when any person takes omeprazole, it is possible to experience side effects that might interfere with his or her daily activities. Less serious side effects include diarrhea, fever and stomach pain, while more serious side effects might indicate low magnesium and include dizziness, muscle cramps or weakness, and uneven heart rate.