ABSTRACT: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) gained popularity in the late 1970s. Inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis with indomethacin has been reported to be effective for prevention of labor and for treatment for symptomatic polyhydramnios. Concern about its possible constrictive effect on the fetal ductus arteriosus has limited its use in pregnancy. Maternal indomethacin therapy has also been associated with reduction in urine production in the fetus and with oligohydramnios.
Obstetricians have discouraged pregnant women from taking analgesic doses of aspirin, mainly because of the availability of paracetamol (acetaminophen), which causes less gastric irritation, but also because of fear of maternal and fetal hemorrhage and of possible premature closure of the ductus. These fears largely derive from studies on patients taking large doses and from extrapolation from other NSAIDs. The likelihood that treatment with 60–75 mg/day of aspirin markedly reduces the incidence of preeclampsia and fetal intrauterine growth retardation makes it important to reexamine its use.
This review describes the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of aspirin with particular reference to pregnancy and considers teratogenesis, prolongation of pregnancy and labor, maternal bleeding, fetal and neonatal bleeding, possible effects on the ductus arteriosus and pulmonary circulation, and possible nonspecific effects on intelligence and breast feeding and acute toxicity in the neonate.