Preeclampsia is a medical condition during pregnancy in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This condition generally occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. This high blood pressure during pregnancy can damage the maternal endothelium, kidneys, and liver. In severe disease there may be red blood cell breakdown, a low blood platelet count, impaired liver function, kidney dysfunction, swelling, shortness of breath due to fluid in the lungs, or visual disturbances. Preeclampsia increases the risk of poor outcomes for both the mother and the baby. If left untreated, it may result in seizures at which point it is known as eclampsia.

Signs and Symptoms

The women with preeclampsia may experience following symptoms:

  • Swelling of hands and face/eyes
  • Sudden weight gain over 2-3 days
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Pain below the ribs, on right side
  • Decreased urine output
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision, seeing flashing lights or spots


The exact cause of preeclampsia is still unknown. Possible cases are:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Blood vessel problems
  • Your diet
  • Your genes
  • First pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Pregnancy after the age of 35
  • History of diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease


In medical books, the only way to treat preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. If your baby is developed enough (generally 37 weeks or later), your doctor may recommend delivering your baby so the preeclampsia does not get worse.

If your baby is not fully developed and it is dangerous to deliver, your doctor will suggest few things to ensure a healthy chance of surviving after delivery.

  • Bed rest, lying on your left side most or all of the time
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating less salt
  • Frequent visits to doctor
  • Medicines to lower your blood pressure and keep the growth of baby

The baby must be delivered, if there are signs of severe preeclampsia, including:

  • Severe preeclampsia can do heavy damage to mother
  • Pain in the belly area
  • Seizures or changes in mental function
  • Fluid in the mother's lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Low platelet count or bleeding
  • Low urine output
  • Abnormal liver function test results
  • Signs that your baby is not growing well or not getting enough blood and oxygen
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