Preeclampsia Prevention: Low-Dose Aspirin

A recent article on NPR talked about how a daily baby aspirin can help cut the risk of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorder, is a potentially serious pregnancy complication that many expectant mothers are not aware of.  The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) says that It occurs in 2% – 8% of pregnancies worldwide. The NPR article also points to the awareness challenge that OB-GYNs face in letting at-risk women know that a low-dose aspirin regimen is something that can help.

First, let’s start out by talking about the risk factors. Women at high risk for preeclampsia are defined as having one or more of the following factors – history of preeclampsia, multifetal gestation, renal disease, autoimmune disease, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and chronic hypertension, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). A woman who is at moderate risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy might have several of the following risk factors – first pregnancy, maternal age of 35 years or older, a body mass index greater than 30, family history of preeclampsia, sociodemographic characteristics and personal history factors.

How low-dose aspirin helps

You may be wondering how a low dose of daily aspirin can help to prevent a complication as serious as preeclampsia. According to Dr. Jodi Abbott, an OB-GYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at Boston Medical Center, aspirin works to relax the blood vessels which lowers the blood pressure and also improves blood flow to the baby, the kidneys and the brain which lowers the risk of the baby or mother developing complications. In addition, the USPSTF adds that prenatal aspirin can even reduce the risk of preeclampsia by 24%.

Preeclampsia can develop at any time during pregnancy but it is more likely that you may begin noticing symptoms in the second or third trimester.  According to ACOG, a daily low-dose of aspirin during pregnancy is considered safe and is associated with a low likelihood of developing serious maternal or fetal complications or both related to use. Note, this is not like taking aspirin. A low-dose aspirin tablet is about 81 mg.

Although not a common disorder to develop during pregnancy, preeclampsia is a very serious condition. Any safe, preventative actions are definitely worth considering and investigating further. Medical researchers continue to study the results of high-risk, moderate-risk and low-risk women who take a daily low-dose of aspirin during pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia.

Our best advice is to be aware of potential risks before getting pregnant, discuss these risks with a trusted health care professional, and stay alert and aware of yours and your baby’s conditions throughout your pregnancy and shortly after. Your healthcare provider is also your best resource to discuss outcomes, dosage, and timing.  For more information on preeclampsia, you may enjoy this blog post as well.

Any information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. If you have further questions about preeclampsia, please contact your healthcare provider. 

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