May is preeclampsia awareness month. Preeclampsia is a condition that can occur during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a disorder marked by high blood pressure and swelling and edema. If left untreated it is not only dangerous to the mother but also the baby. Hence our discussion below during preeclampsia awareness month.

Signs Of Preeclampsia

The onset of preeclampsia usually occurs after the 20th week of gestation. You may notice a more rapid heart rate and possibly sweating or a spike in blood pressure. Another symptom to be on the lookout for is a sudden or long-lasting/lingering headache. Blurred vision and dizziness could be symptoms, as well. Also, nausea and/or vomiting after the first trimester (morning sickness is usually over by then).  At your routine prenatal appointments, your urine may be tested for excess protein. Excess protein could be a sign of kidney damage.  It is important that you tell your doctor if anything is out of the ordinary or if your gut tells you that something is wrong.

Who Is At Risk For Preeclampsia?

Those are at greatest risks for developing preeclampsia are:

-those over 40 or young teens

-preeclampsia with previous pregnancy

-hypertension or high blood pressure prior to pregnancy

-carrying multiples

-African American

-history of obesity

-pre-pregnancy diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, or kidney disease

Treatment Of Preeclampsia

The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby. Before that happens, doctors may prescribe medication to reduce or lower the mother’s blood pressure. The doctor may also make suggestions for reduction of workload or bed rest or other suggestions that would help relax the mother. These methods are usually done earlier on in the pregnancy to give the baby an opportunity to develop further.

If the mother is closer to term, the doctors may suggest a scheduled cesarean section or induction of labor. However, once the preeclampsia is noted it cannot be reversed and the health of the mother must be constantly monitored. Doctors will then weigh the health of the mother against the health of the baby. In some cases, the baby must be delivered immediately, regardless of gestational age, to save the mother’s or baby’s life.

Why Is It Important To Recognize And Treat Preeclampsia?

Prolonged preeclampsia in the mother can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and liver. Additionally, it can cause an injury to the mother’s brain. Undetected or untreated preeclampsia can not only affect the mother long term but can also be detrimental to the baby.

If a mother goes too long with uncontrolled high blood pressure during her pregnancy, the effects on the baby could be a diminished level or loss of blood and/or oxygen to the baby’s brain. This could cause a hypoxic event for the baby. Hypoxia during labor and delivery could have devastating effects on a baby. The baby could suffer from HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy).  

Acidosis is another resulting condition that could possibly occur. If the baby becomes acidotic, he or she begins to experience diminished blood to the kidneys, limbs, and stomach. This is the body’s natural mechanism to cut off the blood supply to those organs in order to protect the blood flow to the baby’s heart and brain.  

Why is it important to recognize and treat preeclampsia? Preeclampsia could have a lifelong impact on a baby. The baby could suffer permanent brain damage as a result. Or worse case, the baby could die at term, prematurely or by stillbirth.  It is important that mothers are forthcoming with their medical team with any changes in her body during her pregnancy. Be sure to make your prenatal appointments and follow medical advice when it comes to diet and exercise. Since this is preeclampsia awareness month, be sure to share with those who could benefit from this information.

We wish you all the best!

Your friends at HIE Resource Place.