How popular heartburn medication can stop life-threatening condition

Cat Bower was 37 weeks pregnant when she woke up with a pain under her ribs.

“It was kind of like a burning sensation and I had trouble breathing,” she said.

Ms Bower had pre-eclampsia, a condition in pregnant women that currently has no treatment and can often lead to early childbirth.

Ms Bower had dangerously high blood pressure and the condition could have been potentially life-threatening for both her and her son Toby.

The only way to stop the condition is to immediately deliver the baby.

“I was rushed off to have an emergency caesar,” Mr Bower told 7 News.

Cat Bower and her son Toby. Source: 7 News

She remained in intensive care for several days while she recovered.

Researchers now believe a popular over-the-counter heartburn medication could be the key to treating the condition by reducing the risk or even stopping pre-eclampsia from developing, and are launching a trial.

Professor Shaun Brennecke, from the Royal Women’s Hospital, said the heartburn drug could influence the production of proteins from placenta cells.

“These proteins are thought to be very important in the development of pre-eclampsia,” he said.

Pregnant women already use Nexium intermittently for heartburn so doctors know it’s safe.

Heartburn medication Nexium could help treat heartburn. Source: 7 News

This trial will have women take one tablet a day after their first trimester.

Ms Bower said she was excited to be going into a potential next pregnancy knowing that treatment might be available.

About 500 women who are at high risk during pregnancy will be invited to take part in the trial.