USPSTF: Some pregnant women should take low-dose aspirin to prevent pre-eclampsia

April 9, 2014

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found that pregnant women who are at high risk for developing pre-eclampsia can take a low dosage of aspirin daily to help prevent the condition, and this can result in better health outcomes for both the mother and the baby.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found that pregnant women who are at high risk for developing pre-eclampsia can take a low dosage of aspirin daily to help prevent the condition, and this can result in better health outcomes for both the mother and the baby. 

The USPSTF study was published online April 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Aspirin normally is not recommended during pregnancy because it can contribute to maternal and fetal bleeding. Pre-eclampsia is one of the leading causes of health complications for expectant mothers and their babies, and affects about 4% of all pregnancies in the United States.

“When the task force last reviewed the evidence in 1996, there wasn’t enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of aspirin to prevent pre-eclampsia,” said Michael L. LeFevre, chairman of the federal task force. “While we are not certain of existing care patterns, we believe that aspirin is not widely used in high-risk women.” 

USPSTF said that women who have had pre-eclampsia during previous pregnancies should take aspirin 81 mg (“low-dose”) daily after 12 weeks of gestation. This applies to pregnant women who are considered high risk for pre-eclampsia, as long as they haven't had previous bad medical experiences with aspirin. In addition, the task force advised that expectant women with multiple moderate-risk factors, including obesity, a family history of pre-eclampsia, age 35 years or older, and African-American ethnicity, may also benefit from low-dose aspirin.

“For women at high risk for developing preeclampsia, low-dose aspirin has been found to improve health outcomes,” LeFevre told FormularyWatch. “However, only a small percentage of women are at high risk for pre-eclampsia. 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.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommends low-dose aspirin therapy only for pregnant women who have a history of pre-eclampsia.

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