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Aspirin eases pre-eclampsia

Prescribing low doses of aspirin to pregnant women at low to moderate risk of pre-eclampsia can modestly but consistently reduce risk of adverse outcomes to mother and baby, according to a new systematic review.

The research, published online by The Lancet, found anti-platelet drugs can lower risk of pre-eclampsia, possibly by redressing the imbalance between hormones that otherwise slows blood flow and leads to clotting.

Dr Lisa Askie and her team at the University of Sydney analysed 31 trials including 32,217 women and 32,819 babies. Compared with controls, treatment with an anti-platelet agent was associated with 'a small but robust reduction in the relative risk of pre-eclampsia and preterm birth before 34 weeks' gestation', she said.

Women given anti-platelets had a 10% lower risk of pre-eclampsia, and a 10% lower risk of early delivery than controls. Aspirin was found to have no significant effect on the risk of death of the fetus or baby.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor James Roberts and Dr Janet Catov, pregnancy experts at the University of Pittsburgh, US, noted: 'There are certain cases in which pre-eclamp-sia is almost a certainty, including women with pre-eclampsia in more than one pregnancy or women with chronic hypertension and pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy. In these cases, aspirin is justified.'

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