Taking a low dose of aspirin daily may lower the risk of giving birth prematurely, a study suggests.
Women who took the dose were 11% less likely to go into labour before 37 weeks compared to those who were given a placebo, according to the study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The trial involved 11,976 first-time mothers between 14 and 40 years old in India, Pakistan, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala and Kenya.
Roughly half were given 81 milligrams of aspirin a day and the remainder a placebo between March 2016 and June 2018.
Premature birth occurred in 11.6% (668) of the women who took aspirin and 13.1% (754) of the women who took the placebo.
Birth before 34 weeks occurred in 3.3% of the aspirin group and 4% of the placebo group.
Women who took aspirin also had a lower rate of perinatal mortality (stillbirth or newborn death in the first seven days of life),
The babies born to women who took aspirin were less likely to be stillborn or die within seven days of their birth compared to the placebo group (45.7 per 1,000 births vs 53.6 per 1,000 births).
There was no significant difference observed in blood pressure disorders.
Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely, according to the World Health Organisation.
Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under five years of age, responsible for around 1 million deaths in 2015, the body added.
The study was conducted by Matthew K Hoffman, of Christiana Care in Newark, Delaware, and colleagues in the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research.
Author Marion Koso-Thomas, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said: “Our results suggest that low-dose aspirin therapy in early pregnancy could provide an inexpensive way to lower the preterm birth rate in first-time mothers.”
The authors added: “The simple eligibility criteria that was used in this trial allows the intervention to potentially be applied to diverse groups of pregnant women in various clinical settings, and might be particularly relevant in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
“The low cost and proven tolerability of low-dose aspirin in women from LMIC populations suggests that this intervention can be readily and safely adopted across a range of clinical sites globally.”
The study is published in the Lancet.