Open Access Research article

A prospective longitudinal cohort study: evolution of GERD symptoms during the course of pregnancy

Sara Fill Malfertheiner1*, Maximilian V Malfertheiner2, Siegfried Kropf3, Serban-Dan Costa1 and Peter Malfertheiner4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical Faculty of Otto von Guericke University, Gerhart-Hauptmann-Str. 35, 39108, Magdeburg, Germany

2 Center for Pneumology, Donaustauf Hospital, Donaustauf, Germany

3 Institute of Biometrics and Medical Informatics, Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany

4 Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany

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BMC Gastroenterology 2012, 12:131  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-131

Published: 24 September 2012



Symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) in pregnancy are reported with a prevalence of 30–80%. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and severity of GERD symptoms during the course of pregnancy. Furthermore current practice in medical care for GERD during pregnancy was assessed.


We performed a prospective longitudinal cohort study on 510 pregnant women (mean age 28.12, SD 5.3). Investigations for reflux symptoms where based on the use of validated reflux-disease questionnaire (RDQ). Additional information was collected about the therapy. A group of non-pregnant women (mean age 24.56, SD 5.7) was included as controls. Frequency and severity of reflux symptoms were recorded in each trimester of pregnancy.


The prevalence of GERD symptoms in pregnant women increased from the first trimester with 26.1 to 36.1% in the second trimester and to 51.2% in the third trimester of pregnancy. The prevalence of GERD symptoms in the control group was 9.3%.

Pregnant women received medication for their GERD symptoms in 12.8% during the first, 9.1% during the second and 15.7% during the third trimester. Medications used >90% antacids, 0% PPI.


GERD symptoms occur more often in pregnant women than in non-pregnant and the frequency rises in the course of pregnancy. Medical therapy is used in a minority of cases and often with no adequate symptom relief.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease; Pregnancy; Heartburn; Regurgitation; GERD symptoms