What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed by high blood pressure along with unexplained proteins found in the mother’s urine (called proteinuria) due to the stress on the kidneys. While dehydration can also cause proteins to appear in the urine, and other factors can cause hypertension, there is no single test that can diagnose preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is usually found after the mother has reached 20 weeks gestation. Your doctor or midwife will want to monitor you carefully if you exhibit any of the following symptoms as well:
- persistent headaches
- blurred vision or sensitivity to light
- abdominal pain
Preeclampsia can cause seizures, and affect the placenta as well as the mother’s kidneys, liver and brain. It can also cause fetal complications such as low birth weight, premature delivery and still birth. While there is no way to prevent a mother from developing preeclampsia, the only known cure for it is the delivery of the baby.
Who is at higher risk?
- Women with chronic hypertension (high blood pressure before becoming pregnant).
- Women who developed high blood pressure or preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy, especially if these conditions occurred early in the pregnancy.
- Women who are obese prior to pregnancy.
- Pregnant women under the age of 20 or over the age of 40.
- Women who are pregnant with more than one baby.
- Women with diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.