We’ve all heard about the wonders of aspirin, particularly its pain relief and anti-inflammatory qualities, and it’s also been linked to reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks in some individuals.
Now, it seems the wonder-drug may benefit another group of patients: pregnant women who have a high risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
Researchers at The Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne have discovered that a low-dose aspirin inhibits the abnormal production of two particular proteins associated with pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is a dangerous pregnancy complication which can have a fatal outcome for both Mother and Baby if left untreated. It usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and affects approximately one in every 20 pregnancies.
Following this discovery, Professor Shaun Brennecke, the hospital's Director of Maternal-Foetal Medicine, has begun recommending women at high risk of pre-eclampsia to start taking aspirin early in their pregnancy to counteract the risk.
Yesterday May 22 marked the first ever World Pre-eclampsia Day. It was organised by the Pre-eclampsia Foundation to highlight awareness about the deadly condition which is unique to human pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia is notoriously difficult to diagnose in early pregnancy as some women do not display any symptoms.
The main symptoms of pre-eclampsia such as high blood pressure and increased protein in the urine are not always enough for a doctor to make a definite diagnosis. However, there is now a new blood test which will help screen expectant mums for the deadly condition.
A trial conducted with over 1,000 expectant mums who were considered high-risk for pre-eclampsia found that a blood test which compares the ratio of two proteins produced by the placenta can be used to predict if the woman will develop the condition.
The trial test found that women with a ratio of 38 or lower were at no risk of developing the condition within a week.
Researchers hope that the new test will avoid pre-term deliveries and delays in starting treatment.
The symptoms of pre-eclampsia include swelling, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, high blood pressure (even a slight increase), reduced urine output and headaches.
Seek medical help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms during your pregnancy.
If you have concerns about pre-eclampsia, speak to your doctor or midwife. Always seek medical advice before taking medication during pregnancy