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Low-dose aspirin to reduce preeclampsia risk

Recommendation: Women at high risk should take daily after 12 weeks of pregnancy

Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of health complications for expectant mothers. It's characterized by a combination of high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling throughout the body after 20 weeks of pregnancy. So, to decrease the risk, the U.S. preventive services task force is recommending a daily low-dose aspirin after 12 weeks of pregnancy for women who are at high-risk for the condition.

"This new recommendation is advocating for the use of a low-dose aspirin amongst women who have previously had preeclampsia and their studies found that it reduced the incidence of preeclampsia by up to 24%," said Dr. Rebecca Starck, an OB/GYN at Cleveland Clinic.

Preeclampsia affects up to 8 percent of all pregnancies worldwide. So, task force researchers are recommending 81 milligrams of aspirin daily for women at high-risk for preeclampsia.

High-risk factors for preeclampsia include: a history of the condition, carrying more than one baby, and having some preexisting chronic and autoimmune diseases.

Researchers say they have evidence that shows a low-dose aspirin can reduce the risk for preeclampsia by 24%, reduce the risk for preterm birth by 14%, and reduce the risk for poor growth by 20% in high-risk women, but the aspirin regimen should not start until after the first trimester.

It's thought the aspirin cuts down the inflammatory response brought on by the condition, which researchers say not only poses a risk to mom, but to baby, too. That's why Starck says pregnant women should talk to their doctors about their risk.

"When a patient comes in, newly pregnant, that's why it's so important to do a good history to understand what occurred in her last pregnancy and use that to our benefit to hopefully improve her outcomes the second time around," she explained.

The U.S. Preventive Task Force's recommendation is similar to the ones previously announced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization.