Monday, December 10, 2007

Study looks for ‘baby’ pill: Tests whether aspirin promotes conception

Buffalo News - Dec 9/07 - Maybe there’s a reason they call it “baby” aspirin.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo have embarked on a study to determine whether low-dose aspirin taken daily can help women get pregnant — and stay pregnant. But they have run into a snag.

They need 535 women to volunteer for the randomized testing. So far, they have only three.

“We have a long way to go,” said a frustrated, but hopeful, Jean Wactawski- Wende, professor and associate chairwoman of UB’s social and preventive medicine department.

“We know there are many women in our community thinking about getting pregnant,” she said. “It’s just a matter of letting them know [about our study].”

Doctors have recently begun looking into the connection between low dose aspirin and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

The National Institutes of Health has commissioned UB, along with the University of Utah, to conduct a randomized study, dubbed EAGeR — Effects of Aspirin in Gestation & Reproduction — to find out whether it actually works.

“The idea around low-dose aspirin,” Wactawski-Wende said, “is that aspirin has qualities that prevent clots, and it also has a property to reduce inflammation.”

The same qualities have led the American Heart Association to recommend baby aspirin for people at risk of heart disease.

Researchers think that aspirin could help with the implantation of the embryo as well as the formation of the placenta, Wactawski-Wende said. They also are looking into whether it could prevent pre-eclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that can strike in late pregnancy.

The study concentrates specifically on women who have had one or two miscarriages and want to continue trying to have a baby.

“The reason we are focusing on this group is because there’s very little that can be offered to women at this point,” Wactawski-Wende said, explaining that one in four pregnancies are believed to end in miscarriage. “This is a group that needs to be studied.”

According to early indications, low-dosage aspirin shows promise of helping such women, Wactawski-Wende said, but she strongly cautioned against anyone trying the regimen on her own.

“We don’t know that it’s effective,” she said. “It needs to be done under very rigorous scientific oversight.”

To be eligible to participate, you must be 18 to 40 years old, have had no more than two pregnancy losses and want to become pregnant again.

Participants will be asked to come to the Women’s Health Research Center on UB’s South Campus for an initial screening. They will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, have their body measurements taken and have blood drawn.

Participants will be randomly assigned to take low-dose aspirin or a placebo every day. All also will be given folic acid, which has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in fetuses.

Aspirin is safe to take for both the mother and the fetus, Wactawski-Wende said. But because some evidence indicates that higher doses of aspirin at the very end of a pregnancy can cause a certain heart condition, all participants will stop taking the pills in their 36th week of pregnancy.

The participants also will receive a fertility monitor to be used every morning. They will be asked to collect and store urine specimens at home for two or three months, keep a daily diary and take pregnancy tests at the end of each menstrual cycle. They will visit the clinic once or twice a month, in addition to going to their regular obstetrician-gynecologist.

Wactawski-Wende pointed out that even the women given placebos will benefit from taking part in the study because they will receive free fertility monitors, which normally cost about $250. The monitors can help pinpoint the best times to try to conceive.

All participants also will receive guidance from clinic workers on conception.

While the women won’t be paid, they will receive a small stipend to cover traveling expenses.

Wactawski-Wende reported that one of their first three participants already is pregnant. She cautioned, however, that the pregnancy still is in its early stages, and whether the test subject is taking aspirin or a placebo remains unknown.

She said she hopes that as women find out about the study, they will sign up.

“When you think about how prevalent pregnancy loss is . . . this is a great opportunity to see if we can help women in our community and eventually all women get pregnant,” Wactawski- Wende said. “This is important. It has big implications.”

Anyone interested in participating in the study should call 829-312.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who swears her successful pregnancy (after several miscarriages) was a direct result of using baby aspirin...and she got the tip from a friend who had similar success.