Preeclampsia is a disease that occurs only during pregnancy that can affect the mother, her unborn child, or more commonly, both. Preeclampsia can occur during the second or third trimester, or a few days after birth. For the mother preeclampsia-causes number of asymptomatic abnormalities – including high blood pressure (hypertension) and leakage of protein in the urine (proteinuria) – which can develop into a serious disease if not detected and treated on time. The foetus may grow more slowly than normal or suffer from oxygen deficiency due to preeclampsia. Learn more about what is preeclampsia in this article.
What is Preeclampsia:
Causes of Preeclampsia
The exact causes of preeclampsia are yet unknown, however, research suggests that preeclampsia may be caused by a placenta that is placed low, becoming hypoxic causing an immune reaction that causes secretion of unregulated inflammatory mediators from the placenta, and acting on the vascular endothelium. . About 6% to 8% of pregnant women are diagnosed with preeclampsia. It is more likely to occur during the first pregnancy and subsequent pregnancies in women under 25 or over 35 years. Women with chronic hypertension, kidney disease or diabetes, or who are pregnant with more than one baby have a n increased risk of preeclampsia.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia:
Preeclampsia does not show symptoms in its early stages, while only detected in routine testing conducted in antenatal care clinics. A combination of increased blood pressure and protein in the urine indicates preeclampsia, but there is no foolproof diagnostic test. Swelling (edema) in hands, feet and face caused by water retention is often a symptom of preeclampsia, but it is also common in normal pregnancies. Symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, vomiting, headache and visual disturbances sometimes occur when the disease has reached an advanced stage. These symptoms should never be ignored in the pregnancy, but as each may have other causes, not necessarily a sign of danger.
As the blood supply from mother to the placenta is limited, nutrients and oxygen to the baby can be reduced, which leads to a slower than normal growth.(intrauterine growth restriction and uterus – IUGR) and subsequent lack of oxygen. When preeclampsia is suspected or confirmed, the unborn child is monitored closely.
Signs of preeclampsia in the mother include an increased blood pressure and abnormal renal function, allowing waste that is to be excreted in urine to accumulate in the blood,. As the disease progresses, the mother’s liver, lungs, brain are affected due to blood clotting. Preeclampsia (seizures), cerebral haemorrhage (stroke), pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs), renal failure, liver damage, and deterioration of the blood coagulation system is the most dangerous complications.
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia:
No one can predict with certainty who will be affected by preeclampsia. Every woman is at risk in their first pregnancy, although the risk is higher for those with a family history of complications. Women, who had preeclampsia during pregnancy, will not get this disease again. But those who have benefited from the first normal pregnancies rarely get preeclampsia in subsequent pregnancies. The risk of repeated attacks increases if the mother is pregnant with twins and is a persistent medical problems, including hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes or, to a lesser extent, migraine.
Treatment for preeclampsia
Treatment of preeclampsia depends on how close a woman is to her due date.
If the due date is near and that the child has developed enough, doctor may want you to keep the child away.
If the child has not developed enough and mother has mild preeclampsia, in this case mother should:
- Bed rest, lying on the left side as much as possible support the weight of the baby’s blood vessels.
- Have more frequent checkups
- Include less amount of salt in diet
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day
If symptoms worsen, one may need to stay in the hospital. Medication to lower blood pressure is necessary. It is likely that a blood test and other tests to check the condition and health of child. In some cases, doctor may choose to start early labour and delivery before the due date.
Best thing that can be done is regular antenatal checks, which is designed to detect early signs of preeclampsia. If possible, refer to specialist in preeclampsia.