The study found an 11% reduction of premature birth in pregnant women who took aspirin (Picture: Getty)

A new study has found that taking a quarter of an aspirin pill every day during pregnancy could cut the risk of having a premature baby.

The study, conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, looked at almost 12,000 women and found that taking 81 milligrams of aspirin a day – a quarter of a 300mg pill – from the sixth week of pregnancy to the 36th lowered the danger by 11%.

When a baby is born prematurely, it is at risk of breathing issues, heart problems, learning difficulties and could even die. So a cheap and safe way for women to lower their risk could have a huge impact.

Researchers studied 11,976 women pregnant for the first time in India, Pakistan, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala and Kenya. Half were given the aspiring and half were given a placebo.

Early birth – defined as happening before 37 weeks of pregnancy – occurred in 116 of every 1,000 women who took aspirin and 131 in 1,000 women who took the placebo, an 11% reduction.

The study also found that birth before 34 weeks was reduced by 25%.

Women who took aspirin were 15% less likely to have a stillbirth or baby who died in the first week of life.

‘Our results suggest that low-dose aspirin therapy in early pregnancy could provide an inexpensive way to lower the pre-term birth rate in first-time mothers,’ says study author Dr Marion Koso-Thomas.

‘Importantly, we saw no increase in serious adverse events in mothers or infants in the low-dose aspirin group, compared with the placebo group,’ added researchers, writing in the Lancet medical journal.

The research is the first major study to evaluate whether aspirin should be used as a global pregnancy measure against premature birth.

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