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Prevention of preeclampsia

Bed rest and dietary manipulations

The rate of PE is not reduced by bed rest, restriction of physical activity or dietary manipulations, including restriction of salt intake or supplementation with magnesium, zinc, folate vitamins C, D and E or fish oil.

Dietary calcium supplementation in women with low calcium diets may halve the rate of PE. Preliminary data suggest that prophylactic use of pravastatins may also benefit women at high-risk of PE.

Low dose aspirin

The prophylactic use of low-dose aspirin in the prevention of PE has been studied extensively. A meta-analysis of trials showed that the administration of low-dose aspirin in high-risk pregnancies resulted in a 10% lower incidence of PE. However in most studies aspirin was started after 16 weeks’ gestation and at a dose of <100 mg/day.

In contrast, other meta-analyses showed that aspirin started before 16 weeks resulted in halving the rate of PE, whereas aspirin started after 16 weeks did not have a significant benefit. In addition, the beneficial effect of aspirin was dose dependent, with a greater reduction in the incidence of PE being associated with a dose of >100 mg/day.

In 1543 BC the Egyptians used extracts from the willow tree for pain relief.

In 400 BC Hippocrates used powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree for headaches, pains and fevers.

In 1828 Johann Buchner at the University of Munich, extracted the active ingredient of the willow plant and called it salicin (Latin term for willow).

In 1915 Bayer developed aspirin tablets.

In 1979 Crandon and Isherwood reported that women who had taken aspirin regularly during pregnancy were less likely to have PE than women who had not.