New guidelines were recently released and implemented about the use of low-dose aspirin, also known as 81mg or “baby aspirin” for prevention of a serious pregnancy complication known as preeclampsia.
It has long been known that people who developed preeclampsia early in a previous pregnancy could benefit from this prevention strategy in subsequent pregnancies but now there’s a whole new set of people for whom this could change their pregnancies for the better.
Now before I go on, I want to make this clear. This article and blog is strictly to provide information and support current standard of care medical advice between patients and their doctors. I am not YOUR doctor and I don’t recommend anyone start any treatment or medication without consulting your doctor.
Whew, had to get that out. Plus if anyone follows me on Instagram (@dreverywoman) you know that I’m getting a puppy soon so I wanted to write this article before MY new baby comes.
Preeclampsia is a syndrome that can occur in pregnancy and can be life threatening for mom and baby. It causes high blood pressure, sometime liver and blood cell abnormalities for mom. It can also lead to maternal seizure and stroke. For baby, preeclampsia can hinder growth and healthy blood flow. This can affect how much oxygen the baby gets and lead to the need for preterm or early delivery.
While science has yet to clearly understand WHY it happens, we know who it is more likely to happen to and have a better understanding of ways to help prevent it. One of those ways is low-dose or 81 mg aspirin.
If you are high risk, meaning you have any ONE of the following conditions, aspirin should be a part of your prevention strategy.
- A previous history of preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy
- Being pregnant with multiple babies
- Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes prior to pregnancy
- Kidney disease, or an
- Autoimmune disease such as lupus
If you have two or more moderate risk factors, aspirin should also be considered. Moderate risk factors include:
- First time giving birth
- A family history of preeclampsia
- Being of African descent
- Low socioeconomic status
- Age 35 years or older
- Having birthed a low-weight baby
- A 10-year interval between pregnancies
- A previous adverse pregnancy outcome
I had preeclampsia with my first pregnancy. Per these new guidelines, I would have been eligible to take low-dose aspirin because it was my first pregnancy and I’m African American.
I’ve heard the argument, “Why should I take medication in pregnancy just because I’m black?” It’s a reasonable questions. Some of the concerns arise from medical distrust, which has historic origins in the black community. That’s a whole separate article, book, hell MULTIPLE BOOKS.
But in the end, we have to pick a side. I can’t just be upset with the black maternal morbidity and mortality rates and healthcare disparities associated with them but NOT be willing to take extra steps to protect myself from some of the pregnancy complications that disproportionately affect me. I have to be ready to act when the science and evidence gives me advice that could protect me.
I can’t state this enough. I am NOT YOUR doctor, so please ask your healthcare provider before beginning any medication within or outside of pregnancy. Use this information to start the conversation with your provider if they haven’t brought it yet. We aren’t perfect . Being your own healthcare advocate starts with knowing your options and being prepared to discuss them.
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