Representing Families Affected by Preeclampsia Complications
Preeclampsia is characterized by the development of high blood pressure during pregnancy. To meet the diagnostic criteria for preeclampsia as opposed to pregnancy-induced hypertension or gestational hypertension, an expectant mother’s blood pressure must measure 140 systolic or more or 90 diastolic or more on two occasions at least four hours apart after 20 weeks of gestation; or the mother’s blood pressure must measure 160 systolic or more or 110 diastolic or more; and protein measurements of greater than 1+ or 300 mg per 24 hours must be present in urine samples (proteinuria). The presence of protein in a pregnant woman’s urine is indicative of the dangerous condition preeclampsia. Below, a preeclampsia lawyer from our firm discusses causes of preeclampsia, symptoms, complications and treatments.
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What Causes Preeclampsia?
The cause of preeclampsia is unknown, and the condition occurs in a small number of pregnancies. However, several factors have been found to increase the risk of preeclampsia development. Preeclampsia risk factors include, but are not limited to:
- First-time pregnancy
- Family history of preeclampsia
- Preexisting history of chronic hypertension
- Kidney disease
- Advanced maternal age (AMA)
- Twin pregnancy
- Maternal obesity
What Are Symptoms of Preeclampsia?
Symptoms of preeclampsia may include:
- Persistent headaches
- Blurred or other changes in vision
- Upper abdominal pain
- Decreased urine output
- Low blood platelet level
- Impaired liver function
- Sudden weight gain
- Shortness of breath
Some of preeclampsia’s symptoms mimic migraines and are similar to common pregnancy side effects. Because of this, regular prenatal visits and urinary laboratory testing are necessary to screen for preeclampsia.
What Are Preeclampsia Complications?
Complications from preeclampsia can result in both maternal and fetal injury, and in severe cases, death. Pregnant women with preeclampsia are at risk for:
- Development of eclampsia (coma)
- Severe bleeding
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
- Placental abruption
High blood pressure can also affect blood flow to the placenta, resulting in reduced oxygen to the fetus. As a result, the fetus is at risk for inhibited growth and preterm delivery. Due to incomplete development and low birth weight, preterm infants are subject to additional complications at birth. These complications include, but are not limited to:
- Respiratory difficulties
- Brain hemorrhages
- Gastrointestinal vulnerabilities
- Compromised immune systems
- Blood and metabolism problems
Preterm infants can also be subject to life-long problems such as cerebral palsy, impaired development and vision, and a number of chronic health issues.
How Preeclampsia is Treated
The only assured treatment for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and placenta. However, mild preeclampsia may be managed with at-home care and close physician monitoring. At home, the mother will have to monitor fetal movement daily, and also her own blood pressure. This type of management requires more frequent prenatal visits and testing to ensure that the disorder does not escalate to severe preeclampsia. Testing will include frequent blood tests, ultrasounds, and non–stress tests.
In the event of severe preeclampsia, the mother will require hospitalization. Severe preeclampsia is indicated by significantly elevated blood pressure and considerably high protein levels in the urine. A physician will induce labor if the fetus is of sufficient gestational age. Then, the physician will administer medications, typically by injection, to help the baby’s lungs mature. To prevent seizures and to lower blood pressure, the mother may be given medications intravenously such as magnesium sulfate. After delivery of the baby and placenta, preeclampsia symptoms typically resolve. However, it may take a full six weeks for the mother’s blood pressure and laboratory values to return to normal, so it is very important to attend physician appointments after delivery.
Did You Suffer From Preeclampsia During Your Pregnancy and Your Child Was Injured as a Result? Call a Preeclampsia Lawyer From Our Firm
If you experienced preeclampsia during your pregnancy and your child has suffered as a result, contact a preeclampsia attorney from our firm.