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Aspirin "cuts pre-eclampsia risk"

Taking aspirin during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a potentially dangerous complication, researchers have said.

Scientists who analysed the results of 31 trials involving more than 32,000 women found evidence that the drug protects against pre-eclampsia.

The condition, associated with high blood pressure, affects between 5% and 8% of pregnancies and can cause abdominal pain, headaches and swelling.

Serious cases of pre-eclampsia kill an estimated 10 women and up to 1,000 babies each year in the UK.

The new research, published in an online edition of The Lancet medical journal and led by Dr Lisa Askie from the University of Sydney, shows that the risk of developing pre-eclampsia, delivering before 34 weeks, and having a pregnancy with a severely poor outcome, fell by 10% in women taking aspirin.

The same result was seen for women taking antiplatelet drugs, which like aspirin prevent blood clotting.

What causes pre-eclampsia remains unclear, but it may arise from complications that lead to irregular blood flow to the placenta, causing blood clots.

The Lancet

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