Low-dose aspirin to prevent preeclampsia in women at high risk. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Network of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units

N Engl J Med. 1998 Mar 12;338(11):701-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199803123381101.


Background: Whether low-dose aspirin prevents preeclampsia is unclear. It is not recommended as prophylaxis in women at low risk for preeclampsia but may reduce the incidence of the disease in women at high risk.

Methods: We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in four groups of pregnant women at high risk for preeclampsia, including 471 women with pregestational insulin-treated diabetes mellitus, 774 women with chronic hypertension, 688 women with multifetal gestations, and 606 women who had had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy. The women were enrolled between gestational weeks 13 and 26 and received either 60 mg of aspirin or placebo daily.

Results: Outcome data were obtained on all but 36 of the 2539 women who entered the study. The incidence of preeclampsia was similar in the 1254 women in the aspirin group and the 1249 women in the placebo group (aspirin, 18 percent; placebo, 20 percent; P=0.23). The incidences in the aspirin and placebo groups for each of the four high-risk categories were also similar: for women with pregestational diabetes mellitus, the incidence was 18 percent in the aspirin group and 22 percent in the placebo group (P=0.38); for women with chronic hypertension, 26 percent and 25 percent (P= 0.66); for those with multifetal gestations, 12 percent and 16 percent (P=0.10); and for those with preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy, 17 percent and 19 percent (P=0.47). In addition, the incidences of perinatal death, preterm birth, and infants small for gestational age were similar in the aspirin and placebo groups.

Conclusions: In our study, low-dose aspirin did not reduce the incidence of preeclampsia significantly or improve perinatal outcomes in pregnant women at high risk for preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspirin / administration & dosage*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Incidence
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / complications
  • Pregnancy, Multiple
  • Risk Factors


  • Aspirin