Women who take low dose of aspirin daily during the first trimester of pregnancy can significantly decrease their risk of developing preeclampsia -- a condition characterised by high blood pressure that can cause premature birth, maternal and foetal death, a study showed.
Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure, swollen feet, ankles and face and severe headaches.
The findings showed that women who took low-dose aspirin (150 mg) in their first trimester of pregnancy showed a 62 per cent decrease in the rate of pre-term preeclampsia that results in delivery before 37 weeks.
Further, the more severe form of preeclampsia, that causes premature birth before 34 weeks, was reduced by 82 per cent as a result of aspirin intake.
"This extensive study is definitive proof that women can take simple measures in the first trimester of pregnancy to significantly reduce their chances of developing pre-term preeclampsia," said Kypros Nicolaides, Professor at King's College London.
"The results show that aspirin can prevent preeclampsia in high risk pregnancies. We hope that this will alter clinical practice and improve pregnancy outcomes for mothers and their babies," added David Wright, Professor at University of Exeter.
According to the World Health Organization recommendations, low-dose aspirin may help prevent preeclampsia in women at high risk and should be started before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
For the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team conducted a placebo-controlled trial of 1,776 women at high risk for pre-term preeclampsia.
The results showed a lower incidence of developing the disease in women taking aspirin than those taking a placebo, the researchers said.