Frequently consuming a meal within 2 hours before bed may be a significant risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in women who are pregnant, a study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology suggests.

The study was a cross-sectional analysis of 400 pregnant women who had visited an antenatal clinic in Vietnam from January to June 2019. While several demographic and clinical data were recorded for each participant, the investigators specifically looked at participants’ meal-to-bed time (MTBT). The MTBT was considered “short” if it was ≤2 hours after completing a meal and had occurred over two-thirds of days in a week.

The investigators also examined corresponding rates of GERD, defined as experiencing troublesome heartburn and or a regurgitation ≥1 time per week. Rates of reflux-related insomnia, characterized by difficulties in starting or maintaining nighttime sleep, was also assessed.


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Overall, approximately 38.5% (n=154) of patients had GERD, while 13.0% (n=20) of patients had reflux-related insomnia. In a multivariate analysis, variables associated with GERD included being in the third trimester (odds ratio [OR], 1.66; 95% CI, 1.03-2.69; P =.039), having a prior history of typical reflux symptoms (OR, 9.05; 95% CI, 5.29-15.50; P <.001), and having a short MTBT (OR, 12.73; 95% CI, 2.92-55.45; P =.001). Nighttime MTBT also represented a significant risk factor for reflux-related insomnia in the multivariate analysis (OR, 3.68; 95% CI, 1.14-11.85; P =.029).

The lack of reliable and accurate measurements of participants’ dietary habits as well as the small incidences of reflux-related insomnia events where 2 key limitations of this study.

In spite of these limitations, investigators wrote that MTBT “could be an important target for a nonpharmaceutical approach to manage GERD in pregnancy in future studies.”

Reference:

Quach DT, Le YT, Mai LH, Hoang AT, Nguyen TT. Short meal-to-bed time is a predominant risk factor of gastroesophageal reflux disease in pregnancy. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2021;55(4):316-320. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001399