What Is Preeclampsia?

As a pregnant mother, you may have heard doctors talk about preeclampsia at doctor's visits. Knowing what preeclampsia is and what the symptoms are can help you be on the lookout for signs that you have preeclampsia.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition that women typically develop in the 34th week of gestation (although it can develop earlier and can even develop after birth). Preeclampsia is characterized by high levels of protein in the urine and high blood pressure. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that should be caught as early as possible to ensure the health and safety of the mother and baby.

What are the symptoms?

Aside from high levels of protein in the urine and high blood pressure, symptoms of preeclampsia include severe headaches, abdominal pain (especially in the upper right side), faster than expected weight gain, changes in vision, reduced urine output, and swelling of the hands, face and feet.

What causes preeclampsia?

The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, although some experts have connected preeclampsia to the development of unusually narrow blood vessels that deliver blood to the placenta. These narrow blood vessels respond to hormone signalling incorrectly and don't deliver as much blood as they should.

What's the danger of preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia can prevent babies from getting enough blood in order to develop properly. Later on in life, this can lead to learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, vision problems, hearing problems and others. In the mother, preeclampsia can cause stroke, seizures, bleeding and heart failure.

Does preeclampsia lead to eclampsia, and what is eclampsia?

Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, but it doesn't always. Eclampsia is a condition that causes the mother to experience seizures, often followed by coma.

Who is at risk for preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia can happen to anyone. However, women who are carrying their first child, are over forty years old, are pregnant with multiple children, are obese or are having a child with a new partner are at increased risk for preeclampsia.

What is the treatment for preeclampsia?

The only way to stop preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Mothers who are still early in their pregnancy may be put on bed rest until the baby is old enough to be delivered. Once the baby gets close enough to term, the mother may be induced or a C-section maybe necessary.

If you have recently begun to display symptoms of preeclampsia, such as swelling of the face or hands, or rapid weight gain, speak with your OBGYN like Florham Park OB/GYN Dr. Donald Chervenak MD immediately. He or she can test you for preeclampsia and give you further instructions. Preeclampsia is a serious condition and the symptoms should not be ignored.