How Preeclampsia can Affect a Pregnant Woman and her Unborn Child HEALTH By OMESH BALMACOON

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How Preeclampsia can Affect a Pregnant Woman and her Unborn Child HEALTH

By OMESH BALMACOON

What Is Preeclampsia?
For this Edition, we will be taking a look at an issue which not many people know about, but once you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the future, it might be worth the knowledge.
In Guyana, a large percentage of women of childbearing age are in fact hypertensive or have had problems controlling their high blood pressure. However, mothers with preeclampsia do not have high blood pressure before their pregnancy. Instead, they develop it while being pregnant. This can be quite compromising to both the mother’s and the foetus’ health.
Formerly called toxemia, preeclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop. It is characterized by high blood pressure in individuals who have previously not experienced high blood pressure before. Preeclamptic women will also have a high level of protein in their urine and often also have swelling in the feet, legs, and hands and sometimes lower back. Preeclampsia usually appears late in pregnancy, around the 20th week, but it is not unusual for it to occur earlier.
If undiagnosed, preeclampsia can lead to another relating condition known as eclampsia. This is a serious condition that puts you and your baby at risk, and in rare cases, can even cause death. Women with preeclampsia who have seizures are considered to be eclamptic.
There’s no way to cure preeclampsia, and that can be a scary prospect for mothers-to-be. But you can help protect yourself by learning the symptoms of preeclampsia and by seeing your doctor for regular prenatal care. When preeclampsia is caught early, it’s much easier to manage.
What are the causes?
This is a question that has stumped many researchers and medical practitioners throughout the world. The exact causes of preeclampsia and eclampsia, a result of a malfunctioning placenta, are not known. However, some researchers suspect poor nutrition or high body fat are possible causes. Insufficient blood flow to the uterus could be associated, while genetics also plays a role.
How Preeclampsia can Affect a Pregnant Woman and her Unborn Child HEALTH
Who Is More at Risk for Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is most often seen in primigravidas or firsttime pregnant mothers, in pregnant teens and in women exceeding the age of 40. While it is defined as occurring in women who have never had high blood pressure before, other risk factors include: • A history of high blood pressure prior to pregnancy • A history of preeclampsia (for those who were pregnant before) • Having a mother or sister who had preeclampsia • A history of obesity • Carrying more than one baby • History of diabetes, kidney disease, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
In addition to some of the mentioned signs and symptoms of swelling, protein in the urine, and high blood pressure, preeclampsia symptoms can include: • Rapid weight gain caused by a significant increase in bodily fluid • Abdominal pain • Severe headaches • Change in reflexes • Reduced urine or no urine output • Dizziness • Excessive vomiting and nausea • Vision changesUrgent medical attention is required if any of the following occurs: • Sudden and new swelling in your face, hands, and eyes (some feet and ankle swelling is normal during pregnancy) • Blood pressure greater than 140/90 • Sudden weight gain over 1 or 2 days • Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right side • Severe headaches • A decrease in urine • Blurry vision, flashing lights and floaters
Note well, it is possible to have preeclampsia and show no symptoms. That is why it is so important to see your doctor for regular blood pressure checks and urine tests.
How Can Preeclampsia Affect Both the Mother and Child?
One of the most important points to make a note of is the fact that preeclampsia can prevent the placenta from receiving enough blood, which can cause your baby to be born very small. It is also one of the leading causes of premature births, and the complications that can follow, including learning disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and vision problems. Death can also occur if the disease is allowed to progress uncontrolled.
In mothers, preeclampsia can cause rare but serious complications that can include: • Stroke • Seizure • Water in the lungs • Heart failure • Reversible blindness • Bleeding from the liver • Bleeding after you’ve given birth
Preeclampsia can also cause the placenta to suddenly separate from the uterus, which is a phenomenon called placental abruption. This can cause stillbirth.
What Treatment Is Available?
• The only cure for preeclampsia and eclampsia is delivery. Your doctor will talk with you about when to deliver based on how far along your pregnancy is, how healthy the baby is in your womb, and the severity of your disease. • If your baby has developed enough, usually by 37 weeks or later, your doctor may want to induce labor or perform a cesarean section. This will keep preeclampsia from getting worse. • If your baby is not close to term, you and your doctor may be able to treat preeclampsia until your baby
has developed enough to be safely delivered. The closer the birth is to your due date, the better for your baby. • If you have mild preeclampsia – also known as preclampsia with and without severe features, your doctor may prescribe:
– Bed rest, either at home or in the hospital. You’ll be asked to rest mostly on your left side. – Careful observation with a fetal heart rate monitor and frequent ultrasounds – Medicines to lower your blood pressure – Blood and urine tests
Your doctor also may recommend that you stay in the hospital for closer monitoring. In the hospital you may be given: • Medicine to help prevent seizures, lower your blood pressure, and prevent other problems • Steroid injections to help your baby’s lungs develop more quickly
Other treatments include: • Magnesium, which can be injected into the veins to prevent eclampsia-related seizures • Hydralazine or another antihypertensive drug to manage severe blood pressure elevations • Monitoring fluid intake and urine output
For severe preeclampsia, your doctor may need to deliver your baby right away, even if you’re not close to term. After delivery, signs and symptoms of preeclampsia should go away within 1 to 6 weeks.

Article Categories:
Daily Updates · Editorial · Health · Issue 31

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