Preeclampsia is a condition occurring in pregnancy after the first 20 weeks. The Mayo Clinic describes it as high blood pressure during pregnancy, with at least one organ damaged, usually the kidneys. Preeclampsia is diagnosed when a healthy pregnant woman suddenly shows a blood pressure rise and commonly when protein is found in her urine. The latter is a sign of kidney damage. According to a report published in the journal Diabetologia in September of 2016, preeclampsia doubles the risk of Gestational, or pregnancy induced, diabetes.
Scientists at Keele University in Stoke-on-Trent and Aberdeen University in the United Kingdom, combined twenty-one studies on preeclampsia and Gestational diabetes. They analysed the studies as if they were one large study. The results showed women diagnosed with preeclampsia were at 2.37 times the risk of developing Gestational diabetes than women with an average blood pressure reading.
So far we do not know how to prevent preeclampsia. Pregnant women are advised to eat a healthful diet and maintain a healthy weight throughout their pregnancy. The condition can be treated with magnesium sulfate to keep the problem from progressing to eclampsia, or convulsions. Mothers who do have preeclampsia need to be monitored carefully for Gestational diabetes. It is the third leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the world. Preeclampsia-eclampsia is the most common cause of pregnancy-related death in Latin America. It is estimated about 500,000 babies die worldwide from eclampsia each and every year.
Worldwide 10 million women develop this pregnancy disorder each year, and 76,000 of them die due to eclampsia or it’s complications. In the United States, Canada, and Western Europe 2 to 5 percent of pregnancies are complicated by the condition. In parts of Africa, the rate can be as high as 18 percent.
Signs and symptoms include…
- sudden vomiting after 20 weeks of pregnancy,
- vision problems such as blurring, light sensitivity, or temporary loss of vision,
- upper abdominal pain, usually on the right side of the body,
- abnormally active reflexes,
- swollen ankles, feet, hands, and face,
- sudden weight gain,
- less or no urine,
- high blood pressure,
- protein in the urine,
- fluid in the lungs,
- shortness of breath, or
- liver failure.
Preeclampsia is also dangerous for the baby. Blood vessels in the placenta can be damaged resulting in oxygen shortage. The only cure is delivery. Sometimes birth may be induced early if the baby is capable of breathing on its own. There are tests available to diagnose the baby’s lung maturity.