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Why Some High-Risk Pregnancies Should Rely on Low-Dose Aspirin

Weight gain, nausea and swollen feet are typical woes experienced by many pregnant women. But for 2 percent to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide, those seemingly harmless symptoms can mean the onset of preeclampsia, a serious condition that has been linked to an increase in maternal and infant mortality, and up to 15 percent of preterm births in the U.S. 

Diagnosed by persistent high blood pressure, preeclampsia during pregnancy is not curable and can escalate quickly, so monitoring and taking preventive measures is crucial. Any pregnant woman can develop preeclampsia.

Who Is At-Risk?

These factors can increase your susceptibility for preeclampsia:

  • Being a first-time mom

  • Being younger than 20 or older than 35 

  • Carrying multiple babies

  • Being of African-American descent

  • Obesity, with a BMI of 30 or greater

Your chances also rise if you have:

  • Had preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy

  • A family history of preeclampsia 

  • Pre-existing health conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes

Prevention Is Possible 

Because of the direct link to high blood pressure, maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits  can help set a strong foundation against developing preeclampsia. 

For women who fall into a high-risk category, your doctor also may recommend taking a low-dose aspirin (60-150mg/day). Based on a recent study by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and supported by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, taking one low-dose aspirin daily, beginning during weeks 12 to 28 of a pregnancy, can decrease developing preeclampsia complications by as much as 24 percent. 

Follow-up testing showed taking a low-dose aspirin did not result in an increase in infant loss, growth issues or cognitive harm to the baby. It also did not appear to bring added risk of miscarriage or early delivery. Infants who were born to mothers taking low-dose aspirin were studied for 18 months and showed no difference in developmental outcomes.

Typically, 81mg daily is prescribed, but there also is evidence that higher doses up to 150mg daily may be even more beneficial. The Maternal Fetal Medicine group at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies is offering doses of 100mg and 150mg to their high-risk patients. 

Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations

Taking low-dose aspirin during pregnancy should only be done when prescribed and monitored by your doctor. This therapy does not include full dosage aspirin or other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which may cause kidney issues in your unborn baby and result in low levels of amniotic fluid and other complications. 

While there are no guarantees your pregnancy will not have challenges, there are simple wellness-based steps and easy, low-cost preventive measures you can take to ensure a healthy delivery for both you and your baby. Remember, talk to your doctor before taking any medications. Together you can form a program that works best.


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