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An explanation of preeclampsia

Preeclampsia occurs when pregnant women develop protein in their urine and high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Soon-to-be mothers in New Mexico might need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, which is also called pregnancy-induced hypertension and toxemia, if they have an autoimmune disorder such as diabetes, they are older than 35, this is their first pregnancy, they are having multiple babies or they are obese.

Some of the general preeclampsia symptoms are rapid weight gain of more than 2 pounds per week and swelling in their face, eyes and hands. Since sickness is not a common symptom of this condition, nausea and vomiting is a sign of a severe case. Other severe preeclampsia signs include less urination, ongoing headaches, irritability, pain below the ribs on the right side or in the right shoulder, and changes in vision.

The blood pressure of a pregnant woman with signs of preeclampsia is often higher than 140/90 mmHg. A blood test may show less than 100,000 platelets and more enzymes in the liver than normal. A urine test could indicate protein in the urine, which is a condition called proteinuria. Doctors also test how well the mother's blood clots and will monitor the health of the baby.

Preeclampsia may be treated at home when the condition does not threaten the health of the mother and baby. If the results of the tests are concerning and the baby is not doing well, the doctor may advise that the mother be hospitalized or the baby be delivered immediately. Early delivery poses a risk to the baby's health and survival before 37 weeks.

Pregnant women may talk to their doctors about having preeclampsia symptoms, but if the doctor does not test them, the mothers could face severe complications, while the babies may suffer birth injury. Doctors who do not order the tests or inaccurately interpret the tests may be deemed negligent. The women might ask attorneys about filing medical malpractice suits.

Source: Medline Plus, "Preeclampsia", November 24, 2014

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