Preeclampsia refers to a syndrome characterized by the new onset of high blood pressure with or without protein in the urine. It is one of the most serious health problems affecting pregnant women. It typically happens after 20 weeks in pregnancy and is a common risk factor for poor outcomes in both moms and babies. Did you know there is one medication that can help women with identifiable risk factors reduce their risk of getting preeclampsia in pregnancy? Good news, there is! Low dose Aspirin (81 mg) daily has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia in women with high- risk and moderate- risk factors. High- risk factors include: preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy, if you are carrying twins, triplets or more, have been diagnosed with high blood pressure before pregnancy, are diabetes, have kidney disease or have an autoimmune disease such as lupus. Other “moderate” risk factors include two or more of the following : first pregnancies, obesity (BMI >30), over the age of 35, family history of preeclampsia in your mother or sister, previous complications in pregnancy (underweight baby, stillbirth) or being of an African American descent. The cause of preeclampsia is unclear, but is thought to originate from the placenta. Changes in the development of the placenta result in poor blood flow to the placenta causing inflammation and stress within our bodies. Preeclampsia may also develop as a result of an overactive inflammatory responses to normal placenta implantation. Aspirin works by blocking this inflammatory response.
The research on low dose Aspirin in pregnancy has been extensive. It has not shown to cause any harm to moms and babies, however there may be harms that we do not yet know about. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) as well as the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all agree that low dose Aspirin therapy should be started at 12 weeks in pregnancy in women with identifiable risk factors. Women started on Aspirin therapy should continue with taking the medication until they deliver, unless otherwise instructed by their midwife or doctor. Our practice will always determine if you are a candidate for Aspirin therapy. If you do not get the opportunity to meet with one of our providers at Perinatal Associates of New Mexico, please discuss with your doctor or midwife if aspirin therapy is right for you!
Loretta A. Garrett, DNP,CNM,FNP