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Baby aspirin might save your life during pregnancy

Chaunie Brusie is writer, speaker, and labor and delivery nurse. Her first book, Tiny Blue Lines, a guide to young motherhood, was released in May 2014. She writes about life as a young mom of three.

Rethinking the little white pill

If there's one rule about medications and pregnancy that I've heard over the past three years working as a labor and delivery nurse, it's been this: aspirin is off-limits during pregnancy.

In general, medications like aspirin and ibuprofen interfere with a woman's blood clotting abilities and pose a risk for bleeding during pregnancy.

Now, however, the U.S. Preventive Task Force is recommending that doctors rethink their anti-aspirin stance for pregnant women. The new review recommends that women at a high risk for preeclampsia, a potentially deadly condition during pregnancy marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, start a daily aspirin regimen.

Aspirin reduces the risk of preeclampsia

Surprisingly, although many have feared aspirin during pregnancy for its potential to cause bleeding, the new review found that a daily 81-milligram dose of aspirin, beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy, can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by up to 24 percent.

The study also found that in addition to preventing preeclampsia, an aspirin regimen could reduce the risk of preterm birth by 14 percent and decrease the risk of intrauterine growth restriction (when a baby's growth is restricted in utero) by 20 percent. No harmful effects for either mother or baby were found with a daily dose of aspirin.

Who's at risk for preeclampsia?

Because the importance of the aspirin treatment in preeclampsia depends on the prevention of the condition, the key is identifying women who are at a high risk. Those women include:

  • Women with diabetes
  • Women who have a previous history of preeclampsia
  • Women with high blood pressure
  • Obese women
  • Women pregnant with multiples
  • Women with immune disorders

However, Eleni Tsigas, executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, says that doctors should be open to discussing aspirin with all of their patients. "All women are at risk for preeclampsia," he has stated.

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