The Simple Way You Can Prevent Preeclampsia
If you haven't heard of preeclampsia yet, that's probably a good thing—meaning you've managed to bypass this pregnancy complication. But it is a condition that all pregnant women should be aware of.
According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, preeclampsia is a condition that affects between 5–8% of all pregnancies and is a leading cause of both maternal and infant death worldwide. Although the risk is somewhat lower in the United States, the disorder is also on the rise; doctors speculate that the rising ages of U.S. mothers and increasing numbers of IVF pregnancies, both of which are risk factors of preeclampsia, may be part of the troubling increase.
Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure (anything over 140/90) and other symptoms, such as protein in the urine, vision changes, and laboratory value changes in a woman's body. It's a condition that occurs during pregnancy and, rarely, immediately postpartum, and the most effective “treatment” for it is the delivery of the baby. Preeclampsia is very severe and can affect nearly every vital organ in a mother's body, and even lead to death for her and her baby.
One of the most troubling aspects of preeclampsia is its reoccurrence rate. Women who have had preeclampsia with previous pregnancies can have as much as double the risk of having the disorder with subsequent pregnancies.
But now, new research is supporting the guidelines recommended by some doctors to help prevent preeclampsia in women who are pregnant again.
And the solution?
Seems relatively simple.
A single, 81-milligram dose of baby aspirin.
The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists' (ACOG) task force on preeclampsia and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (high blood-pressure disorders) guidelines indicate “daily low-dose aspirin to help prevent preeclampsia is suggested in very high-risk women with a history of preeclampsia and preterm delivery.”
According to the guidelines, “high-risk women” include those who:
- have had preeclampsia in previous pregnancies,
- have high blood pressure or diabetes prior to pregnancy,
- are having twins, triplets, or even more in a multi-birth pregnancy,
- and those who have potentially two or more moderate risk factors including: a first pregnancy, obesity, aged over 35, and/or black.
The latest review of the guidelines reduced the risk of preterm birth by 14% and of slow fetal growth by 20% and led to a 24% reduction in the overall occurrence of preeclampsia.
Did you experience preeclampsia with any of your pregnancies?