May is Preeclampsia Awareness MonthPreeclampsia Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate about, and bring awareness to, this dangerous pregnancy condition Preeclampsia affects up to 8% of pregnancies and is responsible for 15% of maternal deaths worldwide. Preeclampsia is a severe condition that can have serious consequences for a mother and a baby but can be effectively managed with proper monitoring and medical care.

What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a disorder that involves high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Severe cases of preeclampsia can lead to serious complications and even death. Preeclampsia usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and can even occur soon after delivery.

Who is at Risk?

Any woman can develop preeclampsia, but there are some who are especially at risk. Risk factors include:

  • Maternal age under 20 and over 40
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Maternal obesity
  • Preexisting blood pressure or kidney issues
  • Carrying more than one baby

What are the Symptoms?

In addition to high blood pressure and protein in the urine, preeclampsia symptoms can include:

  • Swelling
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Abdominal pain—especially in the upper right side
  • Severe headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Decreased urine output

You can also have preeclampsia and not have any symptoms, which is why it is essential to see a doctor for regular blood pressure checks.

Does Preeclampsia Affect the Mother and the Baby? 

Preeclampsia affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta, which can lead to fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, or preterm birth. It also increases the risk of placental abruption, a condition where the placenta separates from the uterus before delivery. This can lead to bleeding that can be dangerous for the mother and the baby. Preeclampsia can also lead to HELLP syndrome and eclampsia, two conditions that can rapidly become life-threatening. These complications can also lead to birth injuries.

Can Preeclampsia be Prevented or Cured? 

Although there have been some controversial studies about the use of low dose aspirin, there is currently no agreed-upon way to prevent preeclampsia and the only “cure” is to deliver the baby. However, there are tests that a doctor can give a pregnant woman to diagnose the condition and monitor it throughout the pregnancy. Proper diagnosis could lead to a recommended C-section or labor induction that could be life-saving. Early screening of pregnant women is vital. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that pregnant women have their blood pressure taken at each prenatal visit.
Unfortunately, sometimes doctors and hospitals either fail to take the proper steps to diagnose preeclampsia or don’t take the appropriate precautions when preeclampsia is suspected. This can lead to dire consequences for mother and baby.
If you or someone you love has experienced the consequences of undiagnosed preeclampsia, you should contact an attorney to investigate and evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have successfully fought for New Yorkers injured due to medical malpractice for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MED-LAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits available. Se habla espaňol.