London - Low-dose aspirin is being used to prevent pre-eclampsia - high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Scientists are giving the drug to around 100 women at high risk of the condition, which can cause fits if left untreated.

The women will receive the treatment for the first three months of their pregnancy (the condition usually starts in the second trimester), and another 100 women will be given a placebo pill. Pre-eclampsia is estimated to affect around seven percent of pregnancies and as many as one in three premature births is linked to the condition.

The cause is not known, but one theory is that it is triggered by problems in the placenta, which connects the mother’s blood to the baby’s blood. The researchers, at the University of Washington, believe that aspirin, which thins the blood, may prevent excessive clotting in the placenta.

The scientists warn that pregnant women should never take aspirin without first consulting their GP. - Daily Mail