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An OTC Drug May Be the Answer to Preventing Miscarriage in Some Women

Photograph by Twenty20

In the United States, it is estimated that half of all pregnancies spontaneously end before a woman even realizes she’s conceived. Of the women that do know they’re pregnant, roughly 15 to 20 percent will suffer a miscarriage, meaning this traumatic event is actually quite common.

But there's hopeful news for women who have experienced a previous miscarriage, thanks to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. It turns out that low-dose daily aspirin therapy might be the secret to healthy conception and carrying a pregnancy to term.

The findings by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveal a potential connection between a woman’s level of C-reactive protein (CRP), which spikes in the blood when there is inflammation, and miscarriage. For women who have struggled with unexplainable pregnancy loss, this could be the answer to the question of why they’ve miscarried, as well as offering the possible solution.

Low-dose aspirin therapy has long been prescribed by medical professionals to help prevent the occurrence of a heart attack or stroke by reducing the blood’s ability clot. As a known blood thinner, aspirin can also lead to dangerous bleeding disorders, meaning it's not right for everyone. Plus, for expectant mothers, taking aspirin at high doses during pregnancy has been linked to congenital birth defects during the first trimester and potential heart problems for the fetus during the third trimester.

Like other over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin is known to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. That led researchers to investigate the effects of low-dose daily aspirin therapy in women who had high levels of CRP and who had suffered one to two miscarriages prior to the study.

The researchers divided the patient-participants into three groups based on their levels of CRP. In each group, whether their CRP levels were high, medium or low, half the women received a placebo and the other half received low, daily doses of aspirin.

While women in both the low and medium CRP groups had no notable differences in their birth rates while on either the aspirin or the placebo, women with high CRP levels who took daily aspirin therapy showed a 35 percent increase in their live birth rate, giving researchers enough positive evidence to warrant further clinical studies.

Another benefit of daily aspirin therapy among women with high CRP levels was an overall reduction in the C-reactive protein in their bloodstream. This decrease in inflammation can lessen a woman’s likelihood of developing other chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s. Every mom knows how demanding pregnancy is on their body, and painful inflammation, which triggers the body’s immune system into overdrive, can only make it more difficult.

It’s important to note that not every woman dealing with infertility or who has experienced a miscarriage will benefit from aspirin therapy. Women with prenatal issues such as ectopic pregnancy, chromosome problems, placental problems, an abnormally shaped uterus or other concerns are most likely not good candidates for treatment with low doses of daily aspirin.

While aspirin therapy should not be undertaken without the supervision of a medical professional, the hope that this treatment can help some women who have suffered previous miscarriages (related to higher levels of inflammation in their bloodstream) to conceive and carry to full term is nothing short of a scientific miracle.

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