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Taking a quarter of aspirin pill a day could cut risk of premature birth, new research suggests

Taking a quarter of an aspirin pill every day during pregnancy could cut the risk of having a premature baby, research suggests.

A study of almost 12,000 women found that taking 81 milligrams of aspirin a day – a quarter of a 300mg pill – from the sixth week of pregnancy to the 36th lowered the danger by 11 per cent.

The research, conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, could offer a cheap and safe way for women to lower risk to their unborn babies.

Pre-term birth – defined as taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy – occurred in 116 of every 1,000 women who took aspirin and 131 in 1,000 women who took the placebo, an 11 per cent reduction [File photo]

Every year 60,000 children are born prematurely in Britain – roughly one in 13 of all live births.

Babies born early are at risk of serious problems, including breathing issues, heart problems, learning difficulties and death.

There is very little doctors can do aside from deliver the baby if labour starts early – so anything that can be done to prevent this happening could save lives.

Study author Dr Marion Koso-Thomas, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said: ‘Our results suggest that low-dose aspirin therapy in early pregnancy could provide an inexpensive way to lower the pre-term birth rate in first-time mothers.’ 

The research team tracked 11,976 women pregnant for the first time in India, Pakistan, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala and Kenya.

A study of almost 12,000 women found that taking 81 milligrams of aspirin a day ¿ a quarter of a 300mg pill ¿ from the sixth week of pregnancy to the 36th lowered the danger by 11 per cent [File photo]

A study of almost 12,000 women found that taking 81 milligrams of aspirin a day – a quarter of a 300mg pill – from the sixth week of pregnancy to the 36th lowered the danger by 11 per cent [File photo]

Roughly half were assigned at random to receive 81 milligrams of aspirin daily and the other group received a placebo ‘dummy’ pill.

Pre-term birth – defined as taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy – occurred in 116 of every 1,000 women who took aspirin and 131 in 1,000 women who took the placebo, an 11 per cent reduction. Birth before 34 weeks was reduced by 25 per cent. 

And women who took aspirin were 15 per cent less likely to have a stillbirth or baby who died in the first seven days of life.

The researchers, writing in the Lancet medical journal, said: ‘Importantly, we saw no increase in serious adverse events in mothers or infants in the low-dose aspirin group, compared with the placebo group.’

Aspirin has been used for decades to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy – a common condition linked to blood pressure. But the new study is the first to investigate its use to reduce the chance of a premature birth.

Writing in a linked editorial piece in the same journal, Julie Quinlivan, of the Australia National University, said: ‘The story of aspirin in pregnancy is decades old. However, the trial… is the first major study to my knowledge that evaluates if the protective effects are sufficient to justify use of the medication as a global pregnancy measure for the prevention of pre-term birth.

‘The intervention has many merits: aspirin is cheap to produce, has a long shelf life, and can be easily stored without the need for refrigeration, making it simple to implement even in low-resource settings.’

But she added: ‘The benefits might not apply in high-resource obstetric settings, where rates of pre-term birth might already be low, and clinical guidelines already in place recommend clinical screening of pregnant women to identify those at increased risk of hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, and prescription of prophylactic aspirin in identified cases.’

Babies are considered ‘viable’ at 24 weeks, meaning they can survive birth. But the earlier a baby is born, the more vulnerable it is, the NHS says. 

Twins and triplets are often premature, with average delivery dates of 37 and 33 weeks respectively.

Pre-term birth ¿ defined as taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy ¿ occurred in 116 of every 1,000 women who took aspirin and 131 in 1,000 women who took the placebo, an 11 per cent reduction. Birth before 34 weeks was reduced by 25 per cent [File photo]

Pre-term birth – defined as taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy – occurred in 116 of every 1,000 women who took aspirin and 131 in 1,000 women who took the placebo, an 11 per cent reduction. Birth before 34 weeks was reduced by 25 per cent [File photo]

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk