In the end, women using aspirin were less likely to give birth prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy): 11.6% did, versus 13.1% of women in the placebo group. Their rate of early preterm birth (before week 34) was cut, too — with 3.3% delivering that early, versus 4% of placebo users.
The findings are strong enough to support routine use of low-dose aspirin in low- to mid-income countries, said study co-author Dr. Marion Koso-Thomas.
Like Gupta, she pointed to the pros of aspirin’s low cost and simplicity. It’s also safe, said Koso-Thomas, who is with the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Her team found no increased risks of problems, such as bleeding, for moms or babies.
And when preterm births are prevented, Koso-Thomas said, the consequences of it — including infant deaths — can be, too.
In the trial, perinatal deaths — which include stillbirths and newborn deaths within the first week of life — were reduced in the aspirin group. Among women who took aspirin, there were just under 46 perinatal deaths per 1,000 pregnancies, compared with just under 54 per 1,000 in the placebo group.
The findings were published in the Jan. 25 issue of The Lancet.
Whether the findings can be translated to the United States or other high-income countries is not clear, however.
Since preterm births are more common in low-income countries, it’s not clear that the same “statistically meaningful universal benefit” would be seen elsewhere, said Dr. Julie Quinlivan, of the University of Notre Dame Australia.
She wrote an editorial published with the study.
Pregnant women should always talk to their doctor before using any medication, including low-dose aspirin, Quinlivan said.
And when it comes to lowering the risk of preterm birth, there are some other proven measures, she said: quitting smoking; getting the flu vaccine; treating anemia or any genital or urinary infections before pregnancy; eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, or considering a fish oil supplement.
WebMD News from HealthDay
SOURCES: Marion Koso-Thomas, M.D., program official, Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch, U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.; Rahul Gupta, M.D., chief medical and health officer, March of Dimes; White Plains, N.Y.; Julie Quinlivan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., adjunct professor, Institute for Health Research, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, W.A., Australia; Jan. 25, 2020,The Lancet
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