Could a medicine cabinet staple be the ticket to a healthier pregnancy? Here's what parents-to-be need to know about the link between low-dose aspirin and pregnancy complications.

By Nicole Harris
February 03, 2021
An image of a pregnancy test on a patterned background.
Credit: Getty Images (1). Art: Jillian Sellers.

Recent studies suggest that low-dose "baby" aspirin could prevent pregnancy loss and preeclampsia. So does that mean you should start taking it if you're expecting a baby or trying to get pregnant? We broke down the latest research.

Baby Aspirin May Decrease Miscarriage Risk

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that taking low-dose aspirin while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy might benefit those who previously suffered miscarriages.  

Researchers studied the effect of low-dose aspirin on 1,227 women aged 18 to 40—all of whom experienced one or two pregnancy losses in the past. It found that participants who took 81-milligram of low-dose aspirin five to seven days per week had "8 more hCG-detected pregnancies, 15 more live births, and 6 fewer pregnancy losses for every 100 women in the trial," compared with those who took a placebo, according to the report. The same effects were found in those who took baby aspirin four days per week.

These results contradict a previous large randomized trial, which didn't find any link between baby aspirin and pregnancy results. But this trial was "subject to nonadherence," according to Annals of Internal Medicine, and researchers re-analyzed data from women who strictly adhered to the aspirin dosage. 

What accounts for these benefits of baby aspirin during pregnancy? Experts don't know for sure, but it's possible that the aspirin could counteract blood clotting or inflammation, which could be an underlying cause of miscarriage.

Baby Aspirin Might Prevent Preeclampsia

Taking baby aspirin during pregnancy has also been shown to prevent preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening complication characterized by high blood pressure. Recent studies found that women at high risk for preeclampsia decreased their chances by taking low-dose aspirin every day after their first trimester. 

Low-dose aspirin (81 mg/day) "is recommended in women at high risk of preeclampsia and should be initiated between 12 weeks and 28 weeks of gestation (optimally before 16 weeks) and continued daily until delivery," recommends the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).  Those at high risk of preeclampsia may have a history of the disorder, pregnancy with multiples, chronic hypertension, or diabetes.

The ACOG also says low-dose aspirin should be considered for women "with more than one of several moderate risk factors for preeclampsia." These include maternal age over 35, obesity, family history of preeclampsia, first pregnancies, and certain sociodemographic factors. 

Is Baby Aspirin Safe During Pregnancy?

Studies have found that low-dose aspirin doesn't negatively affect the mother or baby—but higher doses can be dangerous. Always receive a doctor's guidance before taking baby aspirin while expecting. They'll determine if the medication could be beneficial.

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