Pre-eclampsia is defined as having high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman who previously had normal blood pressure. High blood pressure in this case may be just a slight increase in blood pressure. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to very serious complications for both the mother and growing baby.

What are the symptoms of pre-eclampsia? 

Pre-eclampsia may develop gradually but often begins abruptly after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia in women who previously had normal blood pressure levels include:

  • High blood pressure -- 140/90 or greater documented on two occasions at least 6 hours but no more than 7 days apart 
  • Excess protein in the urine 
  • Headaches 
  • Changes in vision -- sensitivity to light, blurred vision or temporary vision loss 
  • Upper abdominal pain 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sudden weight gain -- typically more than 1 kg 

What are the causes of pre-eclampsia? 

Pre-eclampsia causes may include:

  • Poor diet 
  • Immune disorder 
  • Damage in the blood vessels 
  • Insufficient blood flow to the uterus 

What are risk factors for pre-eclampsia? 

  • Prior history of pre-eclampsia 
  • First pregnancy 
  • First child with a new partner 
  • Age: The risk of pre-eclampsia is higher for women younger than 20 and older than 40 
  • Obesity 
  • Multiple gestation 
  • Long periods of time in between pregnancies 
  • Diabetes 

What are my options if I have been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia? 

The only absolute cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery. With pre-eclampsia, the mother is at increased risk of seizures, placental abruption, stroke and severe bleeding until the blood pressure decreases. If you believe that you are at risk for pre-eclampsia or that you have pre-eclampsia, visit your physician as soon as possible in order to discuss what is best for you and your growing child.

To discuss your risk towards pre-elampsia, schedule an appointment at Fakih IVF Fertility Center today to meet with an Obstetrician.