What is Pre-eclampsia?

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Pre-eclampsia is a condition that some women suffer during the second half of pregnancy. It affects 2-8% of all pregnancies and women who have it have high blood pressure, high amounts of protein in the urine and swelling that does not go away. It can also occur in the postpartum period.

Types of Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia can be classified into:

  • Early-onset pre-eclampsia (before 32 weeks into the pregnancy).
  • Late-onset pre-eclampsia (after 32 weeks of pregnancy).
  • Mild or severe pre-eclampsia depending on its severity.

Severe forms of the disease may affect the liver or kidney, have neurological involvement, coagulation disorders and even seizures (in these cases, it is called eclampsia). In fact, pre-eclampsia is one of the leading causes of death among women and babies around the world.

Pre-eclampsia can prevent the placenta - which provides oxygen and food to the baby - from supplying enough blood. If the placenta does not receive enough blood, the baby receives fewer nutrients which can lead to a lower birth weight when born. In addition, there may be a need to deliver the baby right away, and premature babies are at higher risk for serious complications; some of these last a lifetime and require ongoing medical attention.

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