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Aspirin Reduces Risk of Pregnancy Complication

Aspirin Reduces Risk of Pregnancy Complication

October 31, 2001

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Low doses of aspirin appear to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition in which blood pressure rises to dangerous levels in pregnant women.

"Based on our findings and the established safety of aspirin...treatment with aspirin in women who are found to have (abnormal ultrasound results) seems reasonable," conclude the authors conclude lead author Dr. Aravinthan Coomarasamy of the Birmingham Women's Hospital in the UK and colleagues.

However, the decision to use aspirin should be considered carefully by pregnant women and their doctors, according to the report.

Pregnant women are routinely told to avoid aspirin because it can increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with labor and delivery. Preeclampsia is a complication that affects as many as 1 in 10 first pregnancies. If left untreated, preeclampsia can develop into eclampsia, a life-threatening condition in which a woman has convulsive seizures in late pregnancy or during the first week after delivery.

The cause of preeclampsia is unknown, but many believe it may be linked to increased levels of a blood clotting factor called thromboxane. This compound causes stickiness of platelets, tiny blood cells that foster clotting, according to lead author.

Aspirin prevents platelets from sticking to each other, so numerous clinical studies have been conducted to test its effectiveness against preeclampsia.

The authors summarize the results of 5 such studies involving pregnant women who were diagnosed with preeclampsia in their second trimester. Doses of aspirin ranged from between 50 and 100 milligrams. The findings are published in the November issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Our systematic review shows that low-dose aspirin treatment has a statistically significant effect in reducing the incidence of preeclampsia in women...," the authors write.

They also report that a previous published study found that low-dose aspirin was safe for the fetus and newborn infant with no evidence of an increased likelihood of bleeding.

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology 2001.

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