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Daily injections don’t prevent pregnancy complications

Daily injections don’t prevent pregnancy complications

Amy Mills (with husband Jeff and children Joshua and Mikayla) was relieved to learn that a treatment of daily injections of a blood thinner has been disproven.

Many pregnant women have been injecting themselves daily, hoping to stave off a tendency to develop placenta blood clots, but Dr. Marc Rodger wanted to know whether or not the treatment actually worked.


Angela Donatucci gives herself daily injections of low molecular weight heparin, causing bruises on her abdomen.

In July, Dr. Rodger published conclusive evidence from a clinical trial that these daily injections had no effect. And stopping the injections (of the anticoagulant called low molecular weight heparin (LMWH)) could spare these women from having to poke their abdomen with as many as 400 needles throughout their pregnancy.

The findings came from Dr. Rodger, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute who heads the Thrombosis Program of The Ottawa Hospital, and were published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals.

Allison McIntosh, a 34-year-old lawyer, knows the pain and dejection felt by people who pin their hopes of carrying a baby to term on the LMWH injections. After twice miscarrying, Ms. McIntosh spent months giving herself needles of LMWH only to find out, when she miscarried for a third time, that the treatment didn’t work.

“I thought that I was doing something to make a difference by giving myself the injections,” said Ms. McIntosh. “I kind of lost hope after that experience.”

Amy Mills, a 35-year-old mother of two young children, was relieved to hear that LMWH treatments have been disproven. She participated in Dr. Rodger’s clinical trial after it was discovered that she has a tendency to develop blood clots. Prescribed LMWH by her doctor, Ms. Mills gave herself more than 400 needles during the course of her pregnancy.

“Most women are proud to show their pregnancy belly, but not me,” said Ms. Mills. “There was so much bruising I had to keep covered up.”

The clinical trial took 12 years to complete and involved 292 women at 36 centres in five countries. Dr. Rodger said he hopes that doctors will stop prescribing LMWH to pregnant women when it isn’t warranted.

“These findings allow us to move on, to pursue other, potentially effective, methods for treating pregnant women with complications from placenta blood clots,” said Dr. Rodger.


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