EAGeR To Be Pregnant: Aspirin And Fertility

Keri Dougherty, a 31 year-old woman from Clarks Summit, gave birth to Emma Grace Dougherty on February 3, 2010 at the Moses Taylor Hospital where she was delivered by cesarean section. The 8 lb., 5 oz. newborn was the firstborn child of Keri and Charlie Dougherty.

But before she became pregnant with Emma, Keri suffered two miscarriages within a four-year span. Because of her miscarriage history, she took a chance and decided to enroll in a clinical trial called the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction (EAGeR), which is being conducted by experts at The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC), in Scranton, Pennsylvanis. Theprogram evaluates low-dose aspirin (LDA) in comparison with placebos in those women who have suffered from pregnancy loss and are trying once again to conceive. TCMC is collaborating with local Pennsylvania physicians along with the Physicians Health Alliance in this national project.

Repeated Miscarriage

Dougherty is an EAGeR participant along with 300 other women from the northeast and some 1,600 women from other parts of the US. The researchers on the project recruit participants and follow them as they attempt to conceive and monitor them throughout their pregnancies should they succeed. Women between the ages of 18 and 40 who are trying to conceive and who have experienced one or two miscarriages or pregnancy losses are deemed eligible for inclusion in the trial.

So far, the EAGeR participants have produced 12 babies at the site of the trial, in Scranton. Eight other participants are pregnant. The TCMC/EAGeR staff members include Catherine McGeehan, MSN, RN, and Betsy Mead, RN, BSN who make themselves available to answer any participants' questions and for providing support throughout the period of their patients' gestations.

Once the babies are born, the moms are called at 6 weeks postpartum to hear how they're doing. They will be asked to fill out questionnaires. Mead will also be in contact with the mothers by email. Mead and McGeehan adore receiving photos of the new babies. "We love pictures," says McGeehan.

How Aspirin Helps Conception

Aspirin has been shown to have several beneficial effects. including decreasing blood clot formation, decreasing inflammation, and possibly causing blood may flow better. As such, aspirin may be helpful in many pregnancy outcomes through its effect on blood flow and reducing clots. Better blood flow at the time of conception and implantation may lead to improved pregnancy outcomes. Aspirin improves blood flow to reproductive organs, including the uterus and ovaries, and throughout the body. Thus aspirin may have a role in improving fertility and pregnancy outcomes by increasing a woman's odds of conception and decreasing fetal demise.

Miracles Happen

Emma Dougherty's photo was posted on the EAGeR office door to prove to all comers that miracles can happen. As McGeehan put it, "This is one of the best parts of the job for me because we get to see the women after we've been with them when they weren't pregnant, been with them when they found out and been with them when they were worrying because they had previous pregnancy losses. This is the culmination of all of their wishes and dreams."

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