Q and A on Common Pregnancy Complication

What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is when a woman develops high blood pressure and starts having swelling and spotting in the urine. A lot of women are more familiar with the term toxemia, an older term for the same development.

If a woman has preeclampsia the fear is that it will develop into eclampsia. What is eclampsia?
Eclampsia is the woman develops a seizure. However, there are more risks then eclampsia; bleeding in their liver, fluid in the lung, stroke and kidney failure are also risks associated with eclampsia.

What are the symptoms associated with preeclampsia?
The most important symptom is headaches. They start seeing spots before their eyes or their vision becomes blurry. They might have nausea and vomiting, particularly when it happens in the third trimester. Abdominal pain is also a symptom often associated with preeclampsia.

Who can get preeclampsia?
Women pregnant for the first time are at risk for having preeclampsia. However, if a woman had preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy her risk increases. A woman, who changes her partner, even if she had a previous pregnancy, increases her risk during pregnancy with that partner. Women who are overweight or have IVF are at very high risk for having preeclampsia.

What is IVF?
IVF is in vitro fertilization. IVF occurs because as women grow older the eggs are not as good as they used to be. IVF also occurs in women whose eggs are not capable of connecting with a sperm or whose partner’s sperm is not capable of connecting with an egg.

Is it true that a molecule in the blood and urine can be a predictor for preeclampsia?
The blood and urine can be two important implications for identifying women at high risk, particularly those women who are going to develop the disease very early in pregnancy, or are going to have severe disease. If we can identify these molecules we can give them medicine to prevent the disease.

What is focus of the study?
Preeclampsia and eclampsia is the leading cause of maternal death in many parts of the world, especially third world countries. The study therefore is focuses on discovering a method for testing that can be done in places that don’t have access to technology or sophisticated labs. A urine test has great implications and can be read by anybody. You don’t need a doctor, just someone who can recognize color.

Does the study discuss the affect of antioxidants on women with early-detected preeclampsia?
Yes, some of the changes we have been measuring in women who develop preeclampsia is their antioxidant capacity causing us to think that by giving them vitamin C and D we could prevent the disease or delay its onset.

Why do some doctors compare preeclampsia to cancer?
Preeclampsia happens at the time the placenta develops in the maternal womb, once this happens the abnormality ultimately produces the symptoms just like cancer does. Preeclampsia and cancer are also similar because they are both diagnosed when a patient develops signs or symptoms but not at the beginning of its existence.

After a woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia, what is the treatment?
Unfortunately, the only thing that can be done is put the woman in the hospital, check their blood tests, and check how the baby is doing. As the disease progresses we end up delivering them.

Are those babies delivered preterm?
Yes, some of these babies might not make it and will die. And those who survive are going to have significant problems in the neonatal intensive care unit and significant problems later in life.

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