Can Low-Dose Aspirin Prevent Preeclampsia?
Plus, when you should pop a blood-thinner, and when you should pass.
You're familiar with low-dose aspirin's blood-thinning properties, but what can it do for you during pregnancy?
First off, baby aspirin is sometimes given to women who have had multiple pregnancy losses during their first trimester, the theory being that clotting disorders can cause pregnancy loss, says Jeff Chapa, M.D., director of Cleveland Clinic's Maternal Fetal Medicine department. But when a new study published in The Lancet found no significant association between low-dose aspirin and pregnancy loss, Dr. Chapa wasn't surprised: "The association between blood-clotting and pregnancy loss hasn't been proven," he says.
But don't discount low-dose aspirin just yet. Those same blood-thinning properties could thwart another pregnancy complication—preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, according to a review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Women at high risk for preeclampsia who took low-dose aspirin every day after their first trimester lowered their risk of the high blood pressure complication by 24 percent. Plus, their risk for preterm birth dropped 14 percent, and their risk for intrauterine growth restriction dropped 20 percent.
Because of this study, "the US Preventative Services Task Force now recommends that low-dose aspirin be considered for women at high risk for preeclampsia," says Joanne Stone, M.D., director of maternal fetal medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. High risk women include those who had preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy (especially those delivering preterm), women with diabetes or chronic hypertension, and women carrying more than one baby.
So while low-dose aspirin might not be a cure for pregnancy loss, it can help you if you're at risk for preeclampsia. Talk to your physician to see if a low-dose aspirin regimen is right for you and your pregnancy.