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Pregnant? Review the warning signs of preeclampsia

Published in Birthing Services, OB/GYN Services Author: Robin Marushin,MD Author: Robin C. Marushin, MD

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure disorder that can occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown but it is believed to start with a problem with the blood vessels in the placenta. Preeclampsia can lead to serious, and even fatal, complications for the mother and baby. If left untreated it can keep the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen and harm the mother's liver, kidneys and brain. The only cure is usually delivering the baby.

Regular prenatal checkups are very important for early detection and treatment.

Report any of the following signs or symptoms to your provider if you experience them during your pregnancy. Some of these signs and symptoms also can just be a normal part of pregnancy, so if you feel “off” or that something “is just not right”, please contact your provider and they can help you evaluate your condition. Prompt treatment is vital to preventing the development of severe and possibly life-threatening preeclampsia.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

  • Severe and continuous headache
  • Vision changes (blurring, spots, temporary loss of vision, light sensitivity)
  • Sudden, excessive swelling (particularly in face and hands)
  • Excessive dizziness
  • Sudden, rapid weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting

Your provider may also check for:

  • Protein in urine
  • Increased blood pressure

Risk factors for preeclampsia

  • High blood pressure before pregnancy
  • Personal or family history of preeclampsia
  • First pregnancy
  • Pregnancy with multiples
  • Being overweight during pregnancy