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Aspirin can Reduce Risk of Preeclampsia for Pregnant Women

Update Date: Sep 09, 2014 09:29 AM EDT

Preeclampsia is a complication that arises during pregnancy. The condition occurs when a woman develops high blood pressure after week 20, which is around the end of the second trimester going into the third. Since preeclampsia can be harmful to the mother and child, preventing it is vital. According to a panel of experts from the United States, women who are at risk of developing preeclampsia could benefit from taking daily, low-dose aspirin.

"There is good news that pregnant women who are at high risk for preeclampsia can take a low dose of aspirin [81 milligrams per day] to prevent the condition," said Dr. Jessica Herzstein, who is the global medical director of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., reported by HealthDay. "[Daily low-dose aspirin] can reduce the risk of preterm birth by 14 percent and the risk of intrauterine growth restriction -- when a baby grows slower than expected in the mother's uterus -- by 20 percent. This results in better outcomes for both the mother and the baby."

Dr. Herzstein worked with fellow members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in drafting this new recommendation. They reviewed available data on aspirin use and found that a daily, low-dose regimen reduced at-risk women's chances of developing preeclampsia by 24 percent. The recommendation will only apply to women who are at risk of the condition but are not showing any signs of it. Low-dose aspirin is equivalent to 81 milligrams a day.

Women who are considered high-risk are women who have had preeclampsia with complications in a previous pregnancy and women having a multiple pregnancy. Health conditions that increase women's risk include chronic high blood pressure, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, or an autoimmune disease.

"We don't know exactly how this works, but there is consistent evidence among studies that aspirin does provide significant benefits and very small harm," Dr. Herzstein said. "We need more research to look at how at how aspirin does this."

Pregnant women should always consult with their doctor before starting an aspirin regimen. Risks involved with taking aspirin include stomach bleeding. The study, "Low-Dose Aspirin Use for the Prevention of Morbidity and Mortality From Preeclampsia: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement," was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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