US recommends aspirin for some pregnant women

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A small subset of pregnant women could benefit from taking low-dose aspirin to prevent the potentially life-threatening complication called pre-eclampsia, US health authorities said Tuesday.

Women with diabetes, chronic hypertension, those carrying multiple fetuses or who have a history of pre-eclampsia in prior pregnancies could benefit from starting a regimen of low-dose aspirin after their first trimester, said the US Preventive Services Task Force.

"Low-dose aspirin (range, 50 to 160 mg/day) reduced the risk for pre-eclampsia by 24 per cent in clinical trials," said a USPTF statement.

Daily low-dose aspirin "also reduced the risk for preterm birth by 14 per cent" and cut the risk by 20 per cent of a complication that makes delays babies' growth.

The use of low dose aspirin appeared to cause no short-term harm in 19 randomised controlled trials analyzed.

The recommendations only apply to women at high risk of pre-eclampsia, a condition which affects between two and eight per cent of pregnancies worldwide.

Pre-eclampsia is blamed for about 15 per cent of all preterm births, and can be fatal to the mother and child.

The syndrome is marked by a sudden increase in a pregnant women's blood pressure after 20 weeks gestation, and can affect the woman's kidneys, liver and brain.

The recommendations were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.