Pregnant Women With High Risk For Preeclampsia Should Be On Low-Dose Aspirin Regimen: Study
April 8, 2014

Pregnant Women With High Risk For Preeclampsia Should Be On Low-Dose Aspirin Regimen: Study

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Marked by high blood pressure and elevated levels of protein in the urine, preeclampsia is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.

New guidelines released by the US Preventative Services Task Force now recommend that pregnant women at high risk for preeclampsia take a steady low dose of aspirin as a preventative measure starting after 12 weeks of pregnancy. High-risk women include those who have a history with the condition, chronic hypertension, Type 1 or 2 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, renal disease or a multiple gestation pregnancy, according to the task force.

"Preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for both expectant mothers and their babies," said Dr. Jessica Herzstein, in a statement from the task force. "The good news is that pregnant women who are at high risk for developing preeclampsia can take a low dosage of aspirin daily to help to prevent the condition. This can result in better health outcomes for both the mother and the baby."

Based in a review of recent research, the USPSTF said low-dose daily aspirin cut the chance of preeclampsia in high-risk pregnant women by 24 percent. They also found an aspirin regimen helps to reduce the risk of pre-term birth by 14 percent – as well as reduce rates of early birth and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition marked by an abnormally slow rate development rate of a child in the womb.

The Task Force also found that daily aspirin does not have a significant health risk for the mother or developing child.

"Only a small percentage of pregnant women are at high risk for preeclampsia,” noted Task Force chair Dr. Michael L. LeFevre. “Before taking aspirin, pregnant women should talk to their doctor or nurse to determine their risk and discuss if taking aspirin is right for them.”

Preeclampsia's symptoms usually appear around 20 weeks into pregnancy and if left untreated the condition can develop into eclampsia, a deadly condition that causes seizures. Previous studies have also found pregnant women who develop preeclampsia are at greater risk for elevated blood pressure after pregnancy.

"Once preeclampsia happens, we don't really have any kind of great treatment other than delivering the baby and sometimes we try bed rest," Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, told CBS News.

The new guidelines come after a study published in February found that low levels of vitamin D can increase a pregnant women’s risk of preeclampsia.

In the study, researchers viewed preserved blood specimens of more than 3,700 women who were at an average of 21 weeks gestation. Over one half of the women had a vitamin D level that is deemed inadequate by the National Institutes of Health and 717 of those women had mild to significant preeclampsia, the study said.

After considering confounding factors, the study team found that pregnant women had a 40 percent reduced risk for severe preeclampsia if their vitamin D level was higher than 50 nmol/L – the minimum level recommended by the NIH.