Daily aspirin in pregnancy could cut risk of premature birth

Researchers in the United States (US) said pregnant women who take daily aspirin could reduce the risk for premature birth.

These are the findings of a new study published in the ‘Lancet’.

Medical experts have however advised that pregnant women considering taking a daily aspirin should check with their doctors, since aspirin could cause bleeding and other side effects.

The ‘New York Times’ reported that the study involved 11,976 women in six countries with high rates of premature birth: India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guatemala, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia.

A pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, but a premature birth is one that takes place more than three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature babies, especially those born very early, often have complicated medical problems.

In the study, beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy, half the women in the study received a daily 81 milligram aspirin tablet, while the rest took a placebo,   according to the report.

Compared with those who took a placebo, the women who took aspirin had an 11 per cent lower relative risk of giving birth before 37 weeks and a 25 per cent lower risk of delivering earlier than 34 weeks.

The rate of fetal or infant death from 20 weeks gestation to seven days postpartum was 14 per cent lower in those whose mothers took aspirin.

The lead author, Dr. Matthew K. Hoffman, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at ChristianaCare in Newark, Delware in the US said that early preterm birth is driven by inflammation, for which aspirin was an effective treatment.

Dr. Hoffman stressed that the trial was restricted to low and middle-income countries and to first-time pregnancies with singleton babies.

Still, he said, aspirin was safe and inexpensive and would probably be useful in all countries. “It does mean taking a daily medication, which women are understandably reluctant to do.  But our study shows that aspirin would benefit most children.”-

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