Preeclampsia - Can A Pregnant Women Prevent It?
Pregnancy is a beautiful gift of nature. While it brings a lot of joy and happiness in life, it also comes with challenges for many women. One of them is preeclampsia, a condition which affects an unfortunate lot of 5-8 percent of pregnant women.
It can be potentially dangerous for both the woman and her unborn baby and can even lead to death. Even if a woman is able to successfully deliver the baby, the newborn might weigh less than normal or may face other health problems.
What is preeclampsia?
It’s a severe condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure or hypertension and protein in the urine. The signs include sudden weight gain, change in vision, headache, swelling especially in hands and upper abdominal pain. Many women do not experience any symptoms.
Who is at risk of preeclampsia?
If you fall under below conditions, you are likely to get preeclampsia.
- Pregnancy in teens
- Woman over the age of 35 years
- Pregnant woman with twins or higher number of babies
- High blood pressure before and during pregnancy
- Kidney problems
- Diabetes including gestational diabetes
- Genetic factors
- Autoimmune disorders
Diagnosis of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia can be mild and severe and distinguishing between them is very important as management strategies are different.
Some mild preeclampsia signs:
- Pregnancy over 20 weeks
- Blood pressure over 140 systolic or 90 diastolic
- If 0.3g of protein collected in the 24-hours urine test sample or persistent 1+ protein level on urine dipstick
Severe preeclampsia signs
Diagnosis of severe preeclampsia includes basic features of mild preeclampsia plus some additional problems with either mother or unborn baby.
- Problems with central nervous system including severe headache and blurry vision.
- Nausea and vomiting with abdominal pain
- Very high blood pressure (more than 160 systolic or 110 diastolic)
- Low platelet count (Thrombocytopenia)
- Higher amount of liver enzymes
- Greater amount of protein (5 gms) in the 24-hour sample
- Low urine output (500ml in 24 hours)
- Respiratory problems
- Severe growth restriction of fetus
Is preeclampsia treatable?
Because no one knows what causes preeclampsia, there is no treatment for preeclampsia as of yet. The only resort is delivery of the baby. Hence, if it occurs in the earlier stages of pregnancy, it would be more difficult to manage. So we can say it’s a challenge for both the physician and the women as they have to manage the balance between gestational need of the baby and risk this disease poses.
During pregnancy, doctor will be monitoring your condition to make sure the baby remains healthy. At the 37th week of pregnancy, your doctor might induce labour as at this point of time, the baby is enough developed and minimally premature.
For mild preeclampsia, doctor might recommend to take rest, drinking more water, reduce salt intake and regular check-ups. High blood pressure medication might be recommended. For more serious complications, a woman is told to get admitted to the hospital for close monitoring.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you should immediately visit the doctor in order to avoid further escalation of the situation. After all, your main concern should be the wellbeing of both, you and your baby.
1. Uzan J, et al.(2011).Pre-eclampsia: pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management. read more
2. Mayo Clinic Staff(2017, April 21)Preeclampsia: Symptoms & Causes read more
3. Preeclampsia(2017, April 04) read more