Q:I would very much like to have a family but I am regarded a "high risk" because of having Sjogren's Syndrome, an auto-immune disease. I have been told by the obstetrician that I would need to take aspirin every day (after the first three months of pregnancy) to avoid a thrombosis, and that I would need to be intensively monitored. Obviously, I am not happy about this, but know that my obstetrician is aware of potential problems and is better qualified than I am to deal with them. Can you recommend safer alternatives than aspirin that have undergone clinical testing acceptable to my obstetrician? G.A., York.
A:For the benefit of our other readers, Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune syndrome characterized by a drying up of the salivary gland and glands to the eyes, and is often a reaction to drugs. At least one scientist believes Sjogren's Syndrome is linked with a retrovirus.We asked Ellen Grant, author of The Bitter Pill, and adviser to Foresight, her views. Her response:
"Although aspirin may block the synthesis of prostaglandins, that is, the chemical cell mediators, and thus reduce blood prothrombin levels, it will not correct the source of the problem. And you are right to be concerned about taking daily aspirin, which can be toxic and cause haemorrhages (particularly during labour) and gastritis because it breaks down the normal mucus which creates a barrier to gastric acidity in the peptic juices. It can also interfere with the contraction of the uterus, which requires prostaglandins to do so.
"Aspirin also crosses the placental barrier in pregnancy and is contraindicated in the last three months because of risks to the newborn. And because aspirin taken by a nursing mother passes through into the breast milk, aspirin use should be avoided when a woman is breastfeeding.
"In my experience, Sjogren's Syndrome is associated with allergies, particularly to yeast, Candida albicans and deficiencies of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These are the ones that are found in fish and linseed oils. If you are deficient in essential fatty acids you are more likely to have a thrombosis.
"These days, more and more women are likely to take evening primrose oil, because they've been told that it can help their monthly cycles. Evening primrose oil contains the omega 6 EFAs. However, taking only one type of EFA can actually cause a deficiency in the other; therefore, taking omega 6 EFAs alone could cause a deficiency in omega 3s.
"Patients with Sjogren's Syndrome also tend to have severe zinc , selenium and magnesium shortages.
"Rather than taking a drug that will not help with the root of the problem, I would recommend that you see a clinician who is able to do a thorough workup of your nutritional status and screen you for allergies and Candida albicans. In my view, this requires that you go to one of the few doctors in the UK who employ laboratories to test for vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acids levels. If you get these levels sorted out you may go on to have a pregnancy without drugs."