Guest post by Allie Sakowicz*
Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Fetal Growth Restriction (IUGR) are two common reasons for concern in the United States today, if correctly diagnosed. But a new meta-analysis in the August 2010 issue of the ACOG’s Green Journal suggests that there may be a way to prevent both of these potentially dangerous conditions. The solution could lie in simply taking a low-dose aspirin during early pregnancy.
According to the study, preeclampsia affects approximately 2-5% of pregnancies and leads to over 100,000 deaths worldwide each year. Even in developed countries such as the United States, it can cause complications for both mom and baby, such as stroke, renal and liver failure, and in extremely severe cases, death. Preeclampsia increases the risk for IUGR, which has the potential of causing dangerous health consequences as well.
This study looked at more than 11,000 mothers who fell into a category of moderate to high-risk for preeclampsia. Women were assigned to receive low-dose aspirin or placebo (no treatment), which was began at either 16 weeks or less or 16 weeks or more. Women who began low-dose aspirin treatment at 16 weeks or sooner saw a drop in the rate of preeclampsia, with only 9.3% of women being diagnosed with it it compared with 21.3% in the control group that did not receive treatment. As for IUGR, low-dose aspirin began at 16 weeks or earlier was seen to have a 7% rate of the condition compared with 16.3% in the control group. There were no significant differences seen in the group that began treatment after 16 weeks of gestation in either category. Low-dose aspirin was also seen to drop rates of severe preeclampsia, hypertension and preterm birth.
One of the possible flaws with this study, however, is that only women who were at a moderate to high risk of preeclampsia were treated. Even though low-dose aspirin did seem to have an effect in the rates of these condition in these women, it is unknown if it will work for low-risk mothers.
While more research may need to be done before low-dose aspirin becomes standard in prenatal care, it is an interesting concept and one that has the potential of saving many lives around the world if implemented.
Have you ever treated a patient or been treated with aspirin for preeclampsia? What were the results?
*Note from Allie: There are still about 3,162 days until I earn my medical degree (yes, I’ve counted). Thus, nothing in this study should be taken as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding the suggestions made in this article.