Is Heartburn Inherited?

Medical Author: Jay W. Marks, M.D.
Medical Editor: Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D., Ph.D.

Patients occasionally ask me if their heartburn (the main symptom of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD) is inherited. They usually mention that one or more of their parents, brothers, or sisters suffer from heartburn. Until now, there's not been a lot to tell them. Yes, some studies have shown an increase in heartburn among parents, brothers, sisters, and children of people who have heartburn. However, the association of heartburn within families could be due to inherited genes or it could be due to their shared environment that contains GERD-promoting factors. An important study was published in January, 2002 in the journal Gastroenterology that addressed the issue of the genetics (inheritance) of GERD. It attempted to determine how important inherited genes are as a cause of GERD.

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