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Aspirin reduces risk of pregnancy pre-eclampsia

Research from King’s has found that taking a low-dose aspirin before bed can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, which can cause premature birth and, in extreme cases, maternal and foetal death.

A trial, led by Professor Kypros Nicolaides and Dr Liona Poon from King’s and Professor David Wright from the University of Exeter, found that administering low-dose aspirin (150 mg) led to a 62 per cent reduction in the rate of pre-term pre-eclampsia, resulting in delivery before 37 weeks.

The double blind, placebo-controlled trail of 1776 women at high risk found a lower incidence of developing the disease in women taking aspirin than those taking a placebo. Pre-term pre-eclampsia occurred in 13 participants (1.6 per cent) in the aspirin group, compared to 35 (4.3 per cent) in the placebo group. The pregnant women were given a dose of 150mg per day from between 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy up until 36 weeks.

This extensive study is definitive proof that women can take simple measures in the first trimester of pregnancy to significantly reduce their chances of developing pre-term pre-eclampsia.– Professor Kypros Nicolaides, Director of Harris Birthright Research Centre for Foetal Medicine at King’s College London

Pre-eclampsia causes the flow of blood through the placenta to be reduced, restricting the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the foetus which could restrict growth. A family history of the condition, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease increases the probability of developing the condition. Severe pre-eclampsia can develop in around 2 per cent of pregnancies, with mild cases in up to 6 per cent of women.

The World Health Organization already recommends low-dose aspirin for women at high risk and recommends it be started before 20 weeks of pregnancy. In the United States, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends the use of aspirin in women with a history of pre-eclampsia in more than one pregnancy or a history of pre-eclampsia resulting in delivery before 34 weeks of gestation.

More information on this story is available here.