FODMAP Intolerance


The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy?

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. If you have a FODMAP intolerance, it means that you have trouble digesting any of a range of carbohydrates, which is one pathway leading to whats called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Increasingly, people who feel digestive discomfort after consuming complex carbohydrates, such as bread or pasta, are told by unqualified health practitioners that they suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is not an actual condition. What they do often have, however, is FODMAP intolerance. Consequently, they often feel better when they reduce the amount of wheat in their diets, but they dont feel better because they are reducing their intake of gluten (a pair of proteins contained in wheat), but rather because they are eliminating fermentable oligosaccharides. However, there are different types of FODMAPs, and wheat products contain many things that are good for you, so its important to get a correct diagnosis to make appropriate dietary adjustments. As with other categories of IBS, symptoms of FODMAP intolerance consist of gas and diarrhea. You may have a chronic intolerance to FODMAPs that is fairly mild, but as with other forms of IBS, pregnancy can exacerbate your symptoms, because of pressure on your intestines as your womb grows and the contents of your abdominal cavity move around.

How common is FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy?

FODMAP intolerance is thought to be extremely common both among pregnant women and non-pregnant people. One particular category of FODMAP intolerance called lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk sugar) is reported to affect, at some level (having at least reduced ability to digest lactose, milk sugar), 65 percent of the adult population overall around the world, with rates between 70 to 100 percent in some east Asian countries. It is not possible to get precise rates on the occurrence of FODMAP intolerance overall, because many people simply live with the condition and never get diagnosed.

How is FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy diagnosed?

Testing for FODMAP intolerance is simple but fairly specialized, so your family doctor or obstetrician most likely will refer you to a gastroenterologist or a specialized laboratory. Wherever you are tested, you will be given small amounts of different types of FODMAPs, and your breath will be tested for hydrogen gas that microorganisms produce when you cant digest the FODMAPs on your own. Various do-it-yourself FODMAP tests are on the market, but their accuracy is not proven, so you should use your doctor as a resource.

Does FODMAP intolerance cause problems during pregnancy?

FODMAP intolerance gives you very uncomfortable symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and some diarrhea or loose stools, but it is not dangerous or a threat to life.

Does FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy cause problems for the baby?

No. FODMAP intolerance in the mother does not pose any risk to the baby.

What to consider about taking medications when you are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • The risks to yourself, if you do not treat the FODMAP intolerance
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are pregnant
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are breastfeeding

What should I know about using medication to treat FODMAP intolerance during pregnancy?

FODMAP intolerance can be treated with tablets containing the needed enzymes that breakdown the particular FODMAP to which you are intolerant. Tablets are available containing the enzyme that breaks down lactose (milk sugar) or containing the enzyme that breaks down galacto-oligosaccharides, which are present in beans, lentils, and other legumes that are notorious for causing gas. In such cases, you take the pill just before you eat the troubling food. Technically, such supplemental enzymes are not drugs, since they are working on the food that you eat rather than on some kind of receptors in your body. Since they work entirely within your gastrointestinal tract, they do not affect the baby.

Who should NOT stop taking medication for FODMAP intolerance pregnancy?

You can stop taking digestive enzyme treatments whenever you want since FODMAP intolerance does not threaten your life.

What should I know about choosing a medication for my FODMAP intolerance?

It is important to stay in communication with your health care provider as the release of new studies over time can change the outlook on the role of specific medications during pregnancy.

You may find Pregistrys expert reports about the medications to treat this condition here. Additional information can also be found in the sources listed below.

What should I know about taking a medication for my FODMAP intolerance when I am breastfeeding?

Supplemental digestive enzymes do not enter your blood, so there is no issue related to breastfeeding.

What alternative therapies besides medications can I use to treat my FODMAP intolerance?

FODMAP intolerance can be treated successfully with dietary restrictions in which you simply avoid or reduce your intake of the type of FODMAP that makes you feel ill. If you have lactose intolerance, for instance, you avoid dairy products or reduce your intake of dairy. With milk products, in particular, there are lactose-free products, which are dairy products that have been treated with the enzyme that breaks up lactose.

What can I do for myself when I have FODMAP intolerance during pregnancy?

Be assured that your condition is not life-threatening. Work in concert with your physicians and/or a dietician to eat foods that are appropriate both for pregnancy and for your condition.

Resources for FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy:

For more information about FODMAP intolerance in pregnancy during and after pregnancy, contact (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or contact the following organizations:


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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.

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