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What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs in the last half of pregnancy and up to six weeks after the delivery of your baby. It occurs in 5-10% of pregnancies and can be harmful to you and your unborn baby if not caught early enough.

There is no cure except to deliver the baby, which can be a problem if your little one isn’t mature enough. However, measures can be taken to control preeclampsia long enough to allow your baby to mature enough to survive on his or her own.

Signs Of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia can be tricky to diagnose because there isn’t a single cause or test. High blood pressure, excess swelling in the hands, feet and face, a weight gain of more than 5 lbs in a week, and protein in the urine are all signs and symptoms.

Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, headaches and visual disturbances. Excess protein is a sign the kidneys aren’t working properly, which can also cause the swelling in the hands. However, having high blood pressure or swollen feet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re developing preeclampsia. Your doctor will want to monitor you and your baby carefully.

Who Is At Risk?
Risk is greater in women carrying multiple babies, women over 40, and teens. It’s also more common in first pregnancies, and first pregnancies with a new partner. If you have gestational diabetes, have had kidney problems, immune diseases such as lupus, high blood pressure or a family history of preeclampsia you are more at risk as well.

Research has shown that women with high levels of two certain kinds of proteins in the blood may be more prone to preeclampsia. These proteins can lead to problems with the blood vessels of the placenta and their discovery may lead to future screening tests to help diagnose preeclampsia.

Doctors screen your urine for protein, check your blood pressure and record your weight at each visit to help monitor for preeclampsia. Because there is no single test to diagnose preeclampsia, your doctor may want to see you more regularly if there’s concern for developing the condition.

If you’ve been diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor will want to run a series of tests, such as liver function and other blood tests, an ultrasound and a fetal non-stress test to ensure the baby’s safety.

Call The Doctor If…
If your vision changes abruptly, you experience headaches or abdominal pains, or you have extreme swelling that doesn’t ease up call your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry with this harmful condition!

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