Five facts every pregnant woman should know about preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs during pregnancy. A woman with preeclampsia has a serious problem with high blood pressure that can affect her other organs and cause harm to mother and baby if left untreated. Generally, it occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy during the third trimester.
Our Austin obgyns are happy to provide women with information about this potentially dangerous pregnancy condition.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all pregnant women be screened with blood pressure measurements*, and so you can expect to see the cuff at every prenatal visit.
What our Austin obgyns want women to know about preeclampsia
- A woman who develops preeclampsia requires high-risk pregnancy care.
Our Austin obgyns are experienced high-risk pregnancy care providers. During a high-risk pregnancy, you need to be monitored more frequently and come in for more office visits.
- It’s important for every pregnant woman to recognize the symptoms.
Approximately 5% to 8% of pregnant women will develop preeclampsia, including those who have no known risk factors, so every pregnant woman needs to be aware of the symptoms.
- Persistent headache
- Swollen hands or face
- Upper abdominal pain or shoulder pain
- Vision problems—blurriness, seeing spots or auras
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and vomiting, especially after week 20
- First-time moms have an increased risk for developing preeclampsia.
Researchers cannot pinpoint the cause of preeclampsia, but there are certain factors that increase a woman’s risk.
- First-time pregnancies
- Family history of preeclampsia
- A maternal history of chronic high blood pressure or kidney disease
- Multiple pregnancy
- A history of diabetes or lupus
- A pregnancy at age 40+
- Preeclampsia can cause preterm birth and other complications for baby.
Preeclampsia causes risks for the baby. The baby may need to be delivered early, especially if preeclampsia develops early in the pregnancy. The condition can also affect the baby’s growth because it can cause the blood flow to the placenta to be restricted.
- Preeclampsia can lead to complications for the mother, including HELLP syndrome
HELLP syndrome is a complication that causes impaired blood clotting, damage to red blood cells, and bleeding of the liver. This is a very serious complication that occurs in approximately 5% to 12% of mothers who have preeclampsia.