Understanding preeclampsia and eclampsia

While preeclampsia is not curable, it is manageable. Proper monitoring of mother and baby is essential to prevent serious health problems.

Amid the joy and anticipation of pregnancy, expectant mothers and fathers in Iowa deserve to know that their unborn children are properly taken care of by obstetricians and other prenatal health care providers.

Learning about some of the known conditions and risks that pregnant women may experience can help parents be on the lookout for problems that they should talk to their doctors about. Preeclampsia is one of these conditions.

How do preeclampsia and eclampsia differ?

As the names imply, preeclampsia is the precursor to full eclampsia. Baby Center explains that in preeclampsia, women experience a constriction of the blood vessels. This results in a reduction of blood flow to the placenta. This inhibits the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrition to the baby. In some cases, the placenta can actually become detached from the uterus. This is called a placental abruption.

Some pregnant women can suffer seizures. When this happens, they are no longer said to have preeclampsia but full eclampsia. Seizure prevention is a primary concern for women with preeclampsia.

What are some symptoms of preeclampsia?

According to WebMD, one of the primary symptoms associated with preeclampsia is an increase in blood pressure, especially in women who have not previously had problems with high blood pressure. Related to this can be swelling that is visible in the extremities as well as a level of protein in the urine that is abnormally high. Many women with preeclampsia also notice problems with their eyesight, headaches and even pain in their abdominal areas.

What are the risks of preeclampsia to pregnant women?

Women with preeclampsia are at risk of bleeding from the liver, temporary blindness, stroke and heart failure. In addition, they may also be prone to seizures and the development of water in their lungs.

What are the risks of preeclampsia to babies?

Preeclampsia can be associated with premature birth and babies that are smaller than average. This opens up the risk for developmental problems like learning disabilities. These children may also have problems with their eyesight or hearing. Epilepsy or even cerebral palsy may be associated with preeclampsia.

How should preeclampsia be treated?

Mothers with signs of preeclampsia should be closely monitored by their doctors. In some cases, bed rest or a reduction in activities may be necessary in order to control blood pressure.

Expectant parents who are not sure that they are receiving or have received the proper care for a prenatal condition should talk to a lawyer. This is one more way of learning what their rights are and how they may seek compensation if necessary.