THIS MEDICATION MAY CAUSE HARM TO YOUR BABY:
Ask your doctor before consuming Tums if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and be sure to follow the recommended dosing instructions on the label. Taking too much Tums (more than the amount on the label) during pregnancy could cause seizures in the newborn baby. Additionally, expecting moms who consume too many Tums tablets may develop milk-alkali syndrome, a dangerous condition that, in severe cases, could cause the death of the baby.
What are Tums tablets?
Tums are chewable tablets that are taken after eating or if you are experiencing heartburn. They contain the active ingredient calcium carbonate. Tums are often referred to as antacid tablets and can be purchased without a prescription.
What are Tums tablets used to treat?
Tums are used to treat heartburn, sour stomach, and acid indigestion. Heartburn is a burning sensation in your throat or chest that usually occurs after eating. This burning is caused by stomach acid. People with heartburn may also experience a sour or acidic taste. Some people have heartburn occasionally after eating certain foods or drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Many expecting moms experience heartburn during pregnancy. You can read about heartburn and pregnancy here.
How do Tums work?
The calcium carbonate in Tums neutralizes stomach acid to reduce the burning sensation that you feel from heartburn. It can also improve sour stomach or acid indigestion, which are also caused by stomach acid. Tums are used for the treatment of people who experience occasional heartburn. They only help to neutralize stomach acid and cannot treat the underlying problem. People who experience more frequent heartburn may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and require prescription medications.
If I am taking Tums, can they harm my baby?
Ask your doctor before using Tums if you are pregnant, and be sure to follow the recommended doses on the product label. Consuming excessive amounts of Tums, or generic calcium carbonate antacid tablets, can cause seizures or other health problems in your baby. Taking calcium carbonate antacids, like Tums, at recommended doses is considered by experts to be safe during pregnancy and the preferred first-line treatment for expecting moms who experience heartburn. It is estimated that 30% to 50% of expecting moms use calcium carbonate tablets to manage heartburn symptoms. Calcium carbonate antacids have not been associated with birth defects and are safe when used at recommended dosages. Consuming calcium carbonate antacids also has the additional benefit of providing expecting moms with calcium. Adequate calcium intake is critical during pregnancy because babies receive all of their nutritional requirements from their mom. Calcium is a very important mineral that is necessary for the proper formation of your baby’s bones.
Although calcium carbonate tablets are considered safe during pregnancy when used at recommended doses, there have been some cases of health problems in babies whose moms consumed excessive amounts of calcium carbonate. It is important to follow the recommended dosage on the label and to consult your doctor before using calcium carbonate tablets. Your doctor will be able to recommend a plan that is appropriate for you. If you are taking calcium carbonate antacids for heartburn relief, your doctor may recommend eliminating other calcium supplements from your routine.
Evidence for risks with excessive calcium carbonate intake:
One case report describes an expecting mom who took excessive doses of calcium carbonate during pregnancy for acid indigestion. She took about 10-14 tablets of extra-strength Tums tablets daily (each tablet contained 750 mg of calcium carbonate). At 8 days old, her baby developed seizures caused by low amounts of calcium in the blood, which was associated with the excessive consumption of calcium carbonate antacids.
Another report described an expecting mom who consumed 3-6 grams of calcium carbonate daily during the final 4 months of her pregnancy. At 5 days old, her baby developed seizures and had low amounts of calcium in the blood.
Consuming large amounts of calcium carbonate can also cause a potentially life-threatening condition, called milk-alkali (or calcium-alkali) syndrome, in expecting moms. Milk-alkali syndrome results in high amounts of calcium in the blood, problems with kidney function, and a blood condition caused by excessive amounts of a certain molecule (bicarbonate) in the blood.
One case reported an expecting mom who developed milk-alkali syndrome after consuming 6-10 Tums tablets daily. Another case reported milk-alkali syndrome in an expecting mom who took 8-9 calcium carbonate antacid tablets daily to control GERD symptoms. She also drank several glasses of milk daily and took a prenatal vitamin containing calcium. Milk-alkali syndrome is a serious condition that can be life-threatening in some cases. Additionally, high levels of calcium in the blood, in severe cases, can lead to tetanus or death in the baby. Immediate hospitalization is necessary to treat milk-alkali syndrome and ensure the safety of the mom and baby.
Bottom line: Always consult your doctor before taking Tums, or calcium carbonate antacid tablets, and be sure to follow the directions on the label. Taking calcium carbonate antacids, like Tums, at recommended doses is considered by experts to be safe during pregnancy and the preferred first-line treatment for expecting moms who experience heartburn. Consuming excessive amounts of Tums during pregnancy can cause seizures in the newborn baby. Additionally, expecting moms who consume too many Tums could develop milk-alkali syndrome, which could cause serious health problems or death in the baby.
If I am taking Tums and become pregnant, what should I do?
If you become pregnant while taking Tums, you should contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will determine if your medication can be safely continued. Depending on how many Tums you consume, your doctor may decide to lower the amount of calcium you consume from other sources, such as foods and prenatal vitamins.
If I am taking Tums, can I safely breastfeed my baby?
Ask your doctor before taking Tums if you are breastfeeding, and be sure to follow the recommended dosing instructions on the label. Calcium carbonate antacid tablets, like Tums, are considered compatible with breastfeeding. No reports have been published on the effects of Tums on breastfed babies. However, calcium is a normal component of breast milk and is unlikely to cause harm to your baby when taken according to recommended dosages. Additionally, nursing moms require sufficient amounts of calcium to produce breast milk. Your doctor will help you create a plan that is safe for both you and your baby. Depending on how many Tums tablets you consume and how frequently you take them, your doctor may decide to adjust your intake of other calcium sources, such as certain foods or vitamins. Although taking Tums at recommended dosages is unlikely to affect your baby, consuming too many Tums or other calcium sources could lead to health problems in your baby.
Bottom line: Ask your doctor before taking Tums if you are breastfeeding, and ensure to follow the recommended dosing instructions on the label. Tums are considered compatible with breastfeeding by experts. However, it is important to ensure that you don’t consume too much calcium while breastfeeding. Your doctor may need to change your dietary or supplement routine, depending on how frequently you take Tums.
If I am taking Tums, will it be more difficult to get pregnant?
Calcium is a necessary nutrient for many different bodily functions. Taking Tums, which contain calcium carbonate, within recommended dosages is unlikely to interfere with fertility. Like any nutrient, it is important to get the proper amounts of calcium and avoid either deficient or excessive calci
If I am taking Tums, what should I know?
Ask your doctor before taking Tums if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Although Tums are considered compatible with pregnancy and breastfeeding by experts, consuming excessive amounts of Tums may lead to health problems in your baby. Excessive consumption of Tums during pregnancy has been associated with causing seizures in the newborn baby. Additionally, expecting moms who take too many Tums could develop milk-alkali syndrome, a dangerous condition that could cause death of the mom or baby. Your doctor will help you create a dietary and supplement plan for both you and your baby. If you take Tums frequently, your doctor may recommend that you consume less calcium from other sources, such as foods or supplements.
If I am taking any medication, what should I know?
This report provides a summary of available information about the use of Tums during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Content is from the product label unless otherwise indicated.
You may find Pregistry's expert report about GERD here, and reports about the various medications used for digestive system disorders here. Additional information can also be found in the resources below.
For more information about Tums during and after pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or check the following links:
U.S. National Library of Medicine: Heartburn
Mayo Clinic Staff: Heartburn