Pre-eclampsia is a common term used among pregnant women, especially considering that about ten per cent of them suffer from it. The disorder develops in the late stages of pregnancy, around the twentieth week and is characterised by a rise in blood pressure. In many cases, it gradually subsides but can easily result in many other complications if left untreated, posing a danger to the lives if both mother and child.
The exact cause of the disorder is not well known, but researchers and doctors have come up with some theories that attempt to explain it:
- Genetics: If pre-eclampsia has been observed in the family before, it is very likely that the mother will suffer it too. For instance, if your spouse’s mother had it when she was pregnant, you may also have it. It is in the baby’s genetics.
- Constriction of blood vessels: For some women, blood vessels constrict during pregnancy instead of dilating. As a result, body organs may fail to get enough supply of blood. This may also cause high blood pressure.
- Gum disease: It has been observed that women who experience such periodontal diseases often suffer pre-eclampsia. It is, however, unclear as to what the exact association between gum disease and the disorder is.
These are generally factors that make a woman more vulnerable to pre-eclampsia. They include:
- The first pregnancy: pre-eclampsia is more likely to occur in the first pregnancy.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Twin pregnancy (or more)
- Autoimmune disorders; the body may react towards the presence of the baby in the body.
- The sickle cell anaemia
- Pregnancy in and past the forties
- Pregnancy resulting from in-vitro fertilisation
- Ovary cysts
- Severe swelling all over the body especially on the hands and the face
- Sudden unexplained weight gain
- Oedema or swelling in the ankles that does not subside.
- Presence of protein in the urine
- High blood pressure (hypertension) especially in women who have never had such cases before.
- Pain in the abdomen especially in the upper part.
- A troubled vision such as blurred or double vision
- Persistent headaches
- Abnormal or exaggerated reflex actions
- Abnormally fast heartbeat
Some of these symptoms such as the weight gain and rise in blood pressure could also result from a perfectly healthy pregnancy. It is therefore wise to see a doctor for clarification.
If left untreated, pre-eclampsia could have devastating effects on both mother and child. It could progress to eclampsia which is characterised by rapid seizures. It could also cause damage to the body organs such as the liver and kidney usually referred to as HELLP.
Other complications include abruption of the placenta, intra-uterine growth restriction, and early labour. Make sure you get the right backpack carriers in au for preparing that little bit more.
If you suspect that something is not right with your pregnancy, be sure to see your doctor as soon as you can. Pre-eclampsia is best diagnosed and treated during the regular antenatal visits which you should not skip for whatever reason.