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Pre-Eclampsia: A Common Pregnancy Complication

Pre-Eclampsia: A Common Pregnancy Complication
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pregnancy complications

Pre-eclampsia is a common pregnancy complication that typically occurs during the third trimester. It is characterized by extremely high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. Severe, untreated cases of pre-eclampsia can lead to liver damage or seizures and put the mother or baby’s health at risk.

What Causes Pre-Eclampsia?

The exact cause of pre-eclampsia is unknown. The following factors have been shown to increase the chances of getting it, though:

  • Obesity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Improper functioning of the placenta
  • Kidney disorders
  • Genetic factors
  • Family history of pre-eclampsia
  • Immune function disorders
  • Insufficient blood flow to the placenta

Types of Pre-Eclampsia


Eclampsia is a serious condition that occurs when pre-eclampsia is left untreated. It can cause pregnant women to have frequent, severe seizures.

swelling in pregnant women

Pre-Eclampsia Symptoms

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Fluid retention
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Reduced urine output
  • Swelling in hands or feet
  • Changes in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosing Pre-Eclampsia

Your OBGYN can diagnose pre-eclampsia, but many cases are diagnosed in emergency rooms due to the sudden onset of severe symptoms. The most indicative sign is extremely elevated blood pressure.  Urinalysis can reveal high levels of protein in the urine and a physical examination can show swelling in the hands and feet.

Treating Pre-Eclampsia

There is no cure for pre-eclampsia, but symptoms of the condition can be managed with medications. Anti-hypertensives can reduce blood pressure and anti-convulsants may be used in cases that involve seizures.

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