Aspirin is a drug whose active ingredient is acetylsalicylic acid, which works by reducing pain and fever . Classically it was one of the most widely used medications to relieve mild or moderate pain, such as headaches , dental, menstrual or muscle pain.
Its use was also very frequent in children, coming to be marketed under the name of Infant Aspirin . However, in recent years, many studies have linked infant aspirin with Reye’s Syndrome, so doctors do not recommend its use in children, proposing drugs based on Paracetamol or Ibuprofen as alternatives .
Regarding its use in relation to pregnancy, just read the Aspirin leaflet to check the recommendations. The leaflet itself includes the third trimester of pregnancy as one of the conditions under which Aspirin should not be taken.
The first and second trimesters are in the section of conditions with which aspirin should be taken with special care.
It is reported that the consumption of Aspirin during the first and second trimesters can be dangerous for the embryo or fetus. On the other hand, already during the third trimester, the consumption of acetylsalicylic acid can prolong the labor and contribute to the bleeding of the mother or the baby.
DOES ASPIRIN REDUCE THE RISK OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA?
Some doctors recommend the use of Aspirin to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Despite the recommendations that appear in the drug’s own leaflet, in recent times a movement has started in the United States in favor of the consumption of Aspirin during pregnancy. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), published after one of its investigations , that a daily low-dose aspirin could reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy by 24 percent, in those women who have a high risk of contracting this affectation.
The preeclampsia is the most common complication experienced by pregnant women. There is high blood pressure and an excess of protein in the urine that generate a characteristic symptomatology in women: headaches, decreased urine, abdominal pain, vision problems or nausea and vomiting. In its most serious form, eclampsia, epileptic seizures occur in the form of seizures, with consequences that can be lethal, both for the mother and the fetus. It usually occurs at the end of the second or early third trimester and the causes of its appearance are unknown.
Women at high risk of preeclampsia are those who have already suffered preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy , if they are under 25 or over 35 years old, if the pregnancy is multiple or if they suffer from obesity or chronic hypertension.
There is a growing consensus among doctors and scientists on this issue. However, the benefit of Aspirin in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia could only be given under two conditions.
On the one hand, aspirin therapy should be started in the first weeks of pregnancy, around weeks 12 or 14. It has been proven that after week 20 it is no longer effective.
On the other hand, not all women would benefit from this therapy. Since pre-eclampsia does not have a specific origin, but its appearance is due to different factors , Aspirin would only be beneficial in those women who have been shown to have a pre-eclampsia origin that has to do with a vascular disorder.
Other doctors maintain that the supposed benefits of the administration of Aspirin in the pregnancy are not demonstrated and that, in any case, the risks outweigh the possible positive effects. This, together with the fact that the recommended doses of acetylsalicylic acid should be low and controlled, means that, as with other medications, self-administration of Aspirin by women is totally discouraged. The gynecologist should be consulted about the possibility of starting this therapy and it will be the reference professional who determines the convenience of carrying it out or not.
THE BENEFITS OF ASPIRIN IN REDUCING THE RISK OF MISCARRIAGE ARE UNPROVEN
The beneficial effect of Aspirin has also been questioned in the case of abortions . In recent years, some doctors have recommended the administration of Aspirin in those women who have suffered one or more previous miscarriages and who wish to become pregnant again. This Aspirin therapy, sometimes administered together with a series of hormones and other medications, should also be maintained during the first weeks of pregnancy. Those who defend this idea justify that the anticoagulant effect of acetylsalicylic acid favors the pregnancy to reach term and reduces the risk of miscarriage.
However, there are no studies to confirm this idea . The beneficial use of Aspirin to reduce the risk of miscarriage is even more questioned than its use to reduce pre-eclampsia, because in this case there is no research that has proven it.
Therefore, once again, self-administration of Aspirin is strongly discouraged. We must not forget that, as we mentioned at the beginning, the leaflet itself does not recommend or even advises against its use during pregnancy. It should be our referring physician who determines whether or not its administration is appropriate.