Complication during Preganancy

Complication during Preganancy

1. Bacterial Vaginosis during Pregnancy

Approximately 10% – 30% of pregnant women will experience Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) during their pregnancy. Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by an imbalance in the normal bacteria that exists in a woman’s vagina. It is not transmitted sexually, but is associated with having vaginal intercourse. You may or may not experience symptoms.
How do I know if I have Bacterial Vaginosis?
One of the symptoms of BV is a gray or whitish discharge that has a foul fishy odor. However some women do not experience any symptoms. Diagnosis is made through a pelvic exam. Vaginal discharge is tested through a wet mount (microscopic slide test), pH test (BV often causes a pH level of 4.5 or higher), KOH slide (microscopic slide test) or a whiff test (a mixture that causes a strong fishy odor).


What causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis is an imbalance of bacteria which leads to an over growth of bacterial species. The cause has not clearly been identified. It is not transmitted sexually but it is associated with having vaginal sex and therefore may be listed under sexually transmitted diseases when you look it up.
How can Bacterial Vaginosis affect my pregnancy?
There is significant evidence that links Bacterial Vaginosis with preterm labor. There have been many recent studies that have been conducted to verify this information and find a method of prevention. Other studies have also shown a possible link to miscarriages, low birth weight and premature rupture of membranes.If I am pregnant, will I be screened for Bacterial Vaginosis?
It is not necessary to screen non symptomatic pregnant women for BV. When obtaining your prenatal care, Bacterial Vaginosis is not routinely screened. It is important that you discuss any concerns you may have about BV with your health care provider.What treatments are available for pregnant women with Bacterial Vaginosis?
Treatment is highly recommended to avoid any chance of preterm labor.


2. Chicken Pox and Pregnancy

When you become pregnant you want to do everything you can to stay healthy. Unfortunately it is sometimes impossible to protect yourself from every illness out there. Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection that can be very serious. Fortunately there are ways to protect you and your baby if you are threatened by chicken pox.
What exactly is chicken pox?
Chicken pox is a viral infection also called varicella. It is accompanied by a rash, which appears as small reddish spots or pimples. A fever and body aches usually occur before the rash appears. Chicken pox is contracted during childhood in most cases although there are some instances when an adult is not immune and contracts chicken pox. About 95% of women in their childbearing years are immune to chicken pox.
Who is most at risk for getting chicken pox during pregnancy?

  • If you have been infected with chicken pox once before, then you are most likely immune to getting chicken pox again.
  • If you have NOT been infected with chicken pox and are pregnant, you may be at risk of contracting the virus. You will want to avoid contact with anyone who has chicken pox.
  • If you are not sure if you have ever been infected with chicken pox, your doctor can give you a blood test to determine if you have the chicken pox antibodies. If the test shows that you have antibodies than you are immune to chicken pox.

How will my baby be affected if I have chicken pox?
How your baby will be affected depends on where you are at in your pregnancy. According to the Organization for Teratology Information Service (OTIS):

  • If chicken pox occurs within the first trimester, the risk of birth defects is 0.5-1 percent
  • If chicken pox occurs within the 13th and 20th week, the risk of birth defects is 2 percent
  • If chicken pox occurs within 5 days or less of delivery or 1-2 days after delivery, there is a 20-25% chance that your baby will develop chicken pox, known as congenital varicella.
  • If chicken pox occurs within 6-12 days before delivery, there is a chance that the baby can still get chicken pox. In this case your baby may receive some of your newly made chicken pox antibodies which will cause the congenital varicella to be mild.

Possible birth defects may be scars, eye problems, poor growth, small head size, delayed development, and/or mental retardation.
What can I do to protect my baby from chicken pox?

  • If you have had chicken pox before, then there is nothing you need to do to protect your baby during pregnancy. Your body should have antibodies that protect you from contracting chicken pox and therefore your baby will be protected.
  • If you have not had chicken pox before, you my receive the shot of zoster immune globulin (ZIG) if you are pregnant and come in contact with someone who has chicken pox. ZIG must be given with 4 days of first exposure. This is only given if you do not already have the antibodies against chicken pox.
  • You can get a chicken pox vaccine if you do not have the chicken pox antibodies and you are not pregnant. You must wait 3 months before trying to conceive.

Can someone get chicken pox twice?
It is rare that a person will contract chicken pox twice, but those with immune problems are at an elevated risk of a second infection. There are also those cases when people think they had chicken pox when they were younger, when in fact it was just a rash or something else.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection
What is Cytomegalovirus (CMV)?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that can be transmitted to a developing child before birth. CMV infection is usually harmless and rarely causes illness. For most healthy persons who acquire CMV after birth there are few symptoms and no long-term health consequences. Once a person becomes infected, the virus remains alive, but usually dormant within that person’s body for life. There are two differnet types of infection: primary CMV and recurrent CMV infection. Primary infection can cause more serious problems in pregnancy than recurrent infection can.However, if a person’s immune system is seriously weakened in any way, the virus can become active and cause CMV disease. For the majority of people who have CMV infection, it is not a serious problem.
What are the symptoms of CMV ?
Most children and adults who are infected with CMV do not develop symptoms whereas others may experience the following symptoms three to twelve weeks after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Exhausted or run down

What are characteristics of CMV?
CMV is a member of the herpes virus group that is characterized by the ability to remain dormant within the body over a long period. Infectious CMV may be shed in bodily fluids (urine, saliva, blood, tears, semen, and breast milk) intermittently, without any detectable signs and without symptoms.
How common is CMV?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV):

  • Infects between 50% and 85% of adults in the United States by 40 years of age
  • Is more widespread in developing countries and in areas of lower socioeconomic conditions
  • Is higher among the following risk groups:
    • babies in utero
    • people who work with children
    • immunocompromised persons, such as organ transplant recipients and persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

How is CMV spread?
Transmission of CMV occurs from person to person and is not associated with food, water, or animals. CMV is not highly contagious but has been shown to spread in households and among young children in day care centers. The infection is spread through close intimate contact with a person excreting the virus in their saliva, urine, breast milk or other bodily fluids.
How is CMV diagnosed?
Most CMV infections are rarely diagnosed because the virus usually produces few, if any, symptoms. However, people who have had CMV develop antibodies to the virus which remain in their body for the rest of their life. A blood sample can test for the CMV antibody followed by another blood sample within two weeks. The virus can also be cultured from specimens obtained from urine, throat swabs, and tissues samples. Laboratory tests to culture the virus is expensive and not widely available.
What is the treatment for CMV?
Maternal CMV infections may be treated with one of only two drugs that are used in in severe situations of CMV infection. There are no treatmens for prenatal or postnatal therapy of the infection. Vaccines for treatment are still in the research and developmental stages.
How can CMV be prevented?
Transmission of Cytomegalovirus is often preventable because it is most often transmitted through infected bodily fluids that come in contact with hands and then are absorbed through the nose or mouth of a susceptible person. People who interact with children should use safe hygiene practices including good hand washing and wearing gloves when changing diapers. Hand washing with soap and water is effective in preventing the spread of CMV.
How does CMV affect pregnancy?
The following potential problems can occur for infants who are infected from their mothers before (during pregnancy) birth:

  • Moderate enlargement of the liver and spleen
  • 80-90% suffers from complications within the first few years of life including hearing loss, vision impairment, and varying degrees of mental retardation.
  • 5-10% will present with no symptoms at birth but will develop varying degrees of hearing and mental or coordination problems.

When CMV is transmitted at the time of delivery from contact with genital secretions or later in infancy through breast milk, these infections usually result in few, if any, symptoms or complications.
What are some recommendations for pregnant women regarding CMV infection?

  • Throughout your pregnancy practice good personal hygiene, including hand washing with soap and water
  • If you develop a mononucleosis like illness, you should be checked for CMV infection
  • Refrain from sharing food, eating utensils and drinking utensils with anyone.
  • Your doctor can test the CMV antibodies to determine if you have already had CMV infection.
  • Breastfeeding benefits outweigh the minimal risk of transmitting CMV

What are some recommendations for individuals who care for infants and children regarding CMV infection?
Most healthy people working with infants and children are not at risk from CMV infection. However, women of child-bearing age who previously have not been infected with CMV still have a potential risk for passing CMV to their babies in utero. CMV is commonly transmitted among young children. Since CMV is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids, including urine and saliva; child care providers (including day care workers, special education teachers, and therapists) should be educated about CMV infection and practice preventive measures. Susceptible non-pregnant women working with infants and children should not routinely be transferred to other work situations. Routine laboratory testing for the CMV antibody in female workers is not recommended, but can be performed to determine their immune status.
Incompetent Cervix : Weakened Cervix
During pregnancy, as the baby grows and gets heavier, it presses on the cervix. This pressure may cause the cervix to start to open before the baby is ready to be born. This condition is called incompetent cervix or weakened cervix and it may lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery. However, an incompetent cervix happens in only about 1 out of 100 pregnancies.
What causes an incompetent or weakened cervix?
A weakened cervix can be caused by one or more of the following conditions:

  • Previous surgery on the cervix
  • Damage during a difficult birth
  • Malformed cervix or uterus from a birth defect
  • Previous trauma to the cervix, such as a D&C (dilation and curettage) from a termination or a miscarriage
  • DES (Diethylstilbestrol) exposure

How will I know if I have an incompetent cervix?
Incompetent cervix is not routinely checked for during pregnancy and therefore is not usually diagnosed until after a second or third trimester miscarriage has occurred.
Women can be evaluated before pregnancy or in early pregnancy by ultrasound, if they have any of the factors that are potential causes of incompetent cervix. Diagnosis can be made by your physician though a pelvic exam or by an ultrasound. The ultrasound would be used to measure the cervical opening or the length of the cervix.
How often does an incompetent cervix happen?
An Incompetent or weakened cervix happens in about 1-2% of pregnancies. Almost 25% of babies miscarried in the second trimester are due to incompetent cervix.
What is the treatment for a weakened cervix?
The treatment for an incompetent or weakened cervix is a procedure that sews the cervix closed to reinforce the weak cervix. This procedure is called a cerclage and is usually performed between week 14-16 of pregnancy. These sutures will be removed between 36-38 weeks, to prevent any problems for when you go into labor. Removal of the cerclage does not result in spontaneous delivery of the baby. A woman would not be eligible for a cerclage if:

  • There is increased irritation of the cervix
  • The cervix has dilated 4cm
  • Membranes have ruptured

Possible complications of cervical cerclage include uterine rupture, maternal hemorrhage, bladder rupture, cervical laceration, preterm labor and premature rupture of the membranes. The likelihood of these risks are very minimal and most health care providers feel that a cerclage is a life saving procedure that is worth the possible risks involved.


3. Toxoplasmosis


The solid wastes (feces) of cats may contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii that can cause toxoplasmosis, a rare but serious blood infection. Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted by eating infected, undercooked meat or by eating contaminated fruit or vegetables. If you have had cats for some time, you may have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis and developed immunity to it.
What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis?

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sometimes there are no symptoms at all

How common is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is most common in areas with warm, moist climates. More then 50% of the population in Central and Southern Europe, Africa, South America and Asia are infected with toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is common in France possibly due to the preference of minimally cooked and raw meat.
How will toxoplasmosis affect my pregnancy?
For women who are not immune to toxoplasmosis, exposure to this parasite just prior to or during pregnancy may cause the fetus to be infected.
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS),when the mother gets infected between weeks 10-24 , the risk for severe problems in the newborn is about 5-6%. Effects on the baby include: premature birth, low birth weight, fever, jaundice, abnormalities of the retina, mental retardation, abnormal head size, convulsions, and brain calcification.
During the 3rd trimester, a fetus has an increased risk of becoming infected, but the risk of damage to the fetus is decreased since most of the important development has already occurred.
How can I prevent toxoplasmosis?

  • Avoid exposures to cat feces; get someone else to change the kitty litter
  • Keep cats off counters
  • Do not give your cat raw meat
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with your cat or contact with raw meat
  • Keep counters clean and cook meat thoroughly
  • When eating out, order meat well done
  • Good hygienic measures prevent transmission

How is toxoplasmosis diagnosed?
Most healthcare providers will routinely screen for toxoplasmosis immunity before pregnancy or during the first prenatal visit. A blood test can determine if you have been exposed. If toxoplasmosis is present during pregnancy, treatment with antibiotics will be given for several months to reduce the risk of severe damage to the baby. Cordocentesis is a test that can determine whether an infection has occurred during pregnancy.
Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy

A urinary tract infection (UTI), also called bladder infection, is a bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract. Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTI’s starting in week 6 through week 24.
Why are UTI’s more common during pregnancy?
UTI’s are more common during pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder. As the uterus grows, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing an infection.
What are the signs and symptoms of UTI’s?
If you have a urinary tract infection, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or burning (discomfort) when urinating
  • The need to urinate more often than usual
  • A feeling of urgency when you urinate
  • Blood or mucus in the urine
  • Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Chills, fever, sweats, leaking of urine (incontinence)
  • Waking up from sleep to urinate
  • Change in amount of urine, either more or less
  • Urine that looks cloudy, smells foul or unusually strong
  • Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder
  • When bacteria spreads to the kidneys you may experience: back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

How will the UTI affect my baby?
If the UTI goes untreated, it may lead to a kidney infection. Kidney infections may cause early labor and low birth weight. If your doctor treats a urinary tract infection early and properly, the UTI will not cause harm to your baby.
How do I know if I have a UTI?
A urinalysis and a urine culture can detect a UTI throughout pregnancy.
How is a UTI treated?
UTI’s can be safely treated with antibiotics during pregnancy. Urinary tract infections are most commonly treated by antibiotics. Doctors usually prescribe a 3-7 day course of antibiotics that is safe for you and the baby.
Call your doctor if you have fever, chills, lower stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, contractions, or if after taking medicine for three days, you still have a burning feeling when you urinate.
How can I prevent a UTI?
You may do everything right and still experience a urinary tract infection, but you can reduce the likelihood by doing the following:

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day and unsweetened cranberry juice regularly.
  • Eliminate refined foods, fruit juices, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
  • Take Vitamin C (250 to 500 mg), Beta-carotene (25,000 to 50,000 IU per day) and Zinc (30-50 mg per day) to help fight infection.
  • Develop a habit of urinating as soon as the need is felt and empty your bladder completely when you urinate.
  • Urinate before and after intercourse.
  • Avoid intercourse while you are being treated for an UTI.
  • After urinating, blot dry (do not rub), and keep your genital area clean. Make sure you wipe from the front toward the back.
  • Avoid using strong soaps, douches, antiseptic creams, feminine hygiene sprays, and powders.
  • Change underwear and pantyhose every day.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants.
  • Wear all cotton or cotton-crotch underwear and pantyhose.
  • Don’t soak in the bathtub longer than 30 minutes or more than twice a day.


4. Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases are treated with dietary changes, rest and antacids. More severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV). DO NOT take any medications to solve this problem without consulting your health care provider first.
Why is this happening to me?
Do not worry. Your body is not trying to reject the baby as some people used to think. The majority of pregnant women experience some type of morning sickness (70 – 80%) and about 1% of all pregnancies will experience extreme morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is believed that nausea is caused by a rise in hormone levels, however the absolute cause is still unknown. Hyperemesis Gravidarum can not be prevented but you can take comfort in knowing that there are ways to manage it.
Distinguishing Between Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

Morning Sickness:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

Nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting

Nausea accompanied by severe vomiting

Nausea that subsides at 12 weeks or soon after

Nausea that does not subside

Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration

Vomiting that causes severe dehydration

Vomiting that allows you to keep some food down

Vomiting that does not allow you to keep any food down

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversions
  • Weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice

What are the Treatments for Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
In some cases hyperemesis gravidarum is so severe that hospitalization may be required. Hospital treatment may include some or all of the following:

  • Intravenous fluids (IV) – to restore hydration, electrolytes, vitamins and nutrients
  • Medications – metoclopramide, antihistamines and antireflux medications*


5. Gestational Diabetes

All expecting mothers will be tested for gestational diabetes at some point during their pregnancy. Expecting mothers who are over the age of 35, over weight, or have a family history of diabetes may be tested earlier and more frequently.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form (in most cases) of diabetes in which the body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin to deal with sugar during pregnancy. It may also be called glucose intolerance or carbohydrate intolerance. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Sugar in urine (revealed in a test done in your doctor’s office)
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent infections of bladder, vagina and skin
  • Blurred vision

Who gets gestational diabetes and why do I have to be tested?
Approximately 2-5 % of all expecting mothers will develop gestational diabetes with this number possibly increasing to 7-9 % in populations where mothers are more likely to have risk factors. The screening for this disease usually will take place sometime between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Doctors test for gestational diabetes during this time because the placenta is producing large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin resistance. If the result comes back with elevated levels, further testing would be done to confirm a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
What should I expect during my test?
During your prenatal visit your doctor will give you a sweet liquid (sweet does not necessarily mean good!) to drink one hour before your blood is drawn. It may cause you to feel a bit nauseous. The results will indicate if you are producing enough insulin or not.
If I have gestational diabetes how will I be treated?
The biggest part of treating gestational diabetes is controlling your blood sugar levels. There are things you and your doctor can do in order to control your levels and keep them at a safe and normal amount.:

  • Close monitoring of you and your baby
  • Self monitoring of blood glucose levels
  • Insulin therapy, if necessary
  • Diet and exercise management
  • It has been reported that women who develop gestational diabetes have a greater chance of developing overt (Type II) diabetes later in life.

Is there anything I should be afraid of?
If gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated effectively, there is little risk of complications. If gestational diabetes is not treated, effects for mother and baby can include:

  • Large birth weight
  • Premature delivery
  • Increased chance of cesarean delivery
  • Slightly increased risk of fetal and neonatal death

With proper care and treatment, women with gestational diabetes can have healthy babies and the diabetes should disappear after delivery.
It is important that you watch for any continuing signs that you may still be diabetic after giving birth. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Persistent thirst
  • Increased sugar in blood or urine

Testing may occur a few months after the delivery to make sure your blood sugar levels have returned back to normal.

6. Placenta Accreta

The placenta normally attaches to the uterine wall, however there is a condition that occurs where the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the wall of the uterus. This condition is known as placenta accreta, placenta increta, or placenta percreta depending on the severity and deepness of the placenta attachment. Approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience placenta accreta, increta or percreta.
What is the difference between accreta, increta or percreta?
The difference between placenta accreta, increta or percreta is determined by the severity of the attachment of the placenta to the uterine wall.
Placenta Accreta occurs when the placenta attaches too deep in the uterine wall but it does not penetrate the uterine muscle. Placenta accreta is the most common accounting for approximately 75% of all cases.
Placenta Increta occurs when the placenta attaches even deeper into the uterine wall and does penetrate into the uterine muscle. Placenta increta accounts for approximately 15% of all cases.
Placenta Percreta occurs when the placenta penetrates through the entire uterine wall and attaches to another organ such as the bladder. Placenta percreta is the least common of the three conditions accounting for approximately 5% of all cases.
What causes placenta accreta?
The specific cause of placenta accreta is unknown, but it can be related to placenta previa and previous cesarean deliveries. Placenta accreta is present in 5% to 10% of women with placenta previa.
A cesarean delivery increases the possibility of a future placenta accreta, and the more cesareans, the greater the increase. Multiple cesareans were present in over 60% of placenta accreta cases.
What are the risks of placenta accreta to the baby?
Premature delivery and subsequent complications are the primary concerns for the baby. Bleeding during the third trimester may be a warning sign that placenta accreta exists, and when placenta accreta occurs it commonly results in a premature delivery. Your healthcare provider will examine your condition and use medication, bed rest and whatever else necessary to help continue the pregnancy towards full term.
What are the risks of placenta accreta to the mother?
The placenta usually has difficulty separating from the uterine wall. The primary concern for the mother is hemorrhaging during manual attempts to detach the placenta. Severe hemorrhaging can be life threatening. Other concerns involve damage to the uterus or other organs (percreta) during removal of the placenta. Hysterectomy is a common therapeutic intervention, but the results involve the loss of the uterus and the ability to conceive.
What is the treatment for placenta accreta?
There is nothing a woman can do to prevent placenta accreta, and there is little that can be done for treatment once placenta accreta has been diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed with placenta accreta your healthcare provider will monitor your pregnancy with the intent of scheduling a delivery and using a surgery that may spare the uterus. It is particularly important to discuss this surgery with your doctor if you desire to have additional children.
Unfortunately, placenta accreta may be severe enough that a hysterectomy may be needed. Again, it is important to discuss surgical options with your healthcare provider.
Placenta Previa
Placenta Previa is a condition where the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially or completely covers the cervix. The placenta may separate from the uterine wall as the cervix begins to dilate (open) during labor.
How common is placenta previa?
Placenta previa affects about 1 in 200 pregnant women in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Placenta previa is more common in women who have had one or more of the following:

  • More than one child
  • A cesarean birth
  • Surgery on the uterus
  • Twins or triplets

What are the different types of placenta previa?

  • Complete previa: the cervical opening is completely covered
  • Partial previa: a portion of the cervix is covered by the placenta
  • Marginal previa: extends just to the edge of the cervix

What are the symptoms of placenta previa?
Signs and symptoms of placenta previa vary, but the most common symptom is painless bleeding during the third trimester. Other reasons to suspect placenta previa would be:

  • Premature contractions
  • Baby is breech, or in transverse position
  • Uterus measures larger than it should according to gestational age

What is the treatment for placenta previa?
Once diagnosed, placenta previa will usually require bed rest for the mother and frequent hospital visits. Depending on the gestational age, steroid shots may be given to help mature the baby’s lungs. If the bleeding cannot be controlled, an immediate cesarean delivery is usually done regardless of the length of the pregnancy. Some marginal previas can be delivered vaginally, although complete or partial previas would require a cesarean delivery.
Most physicians recommend women who are experiencing placenta previa to:

  • Avoid intercourse
  • Limit traveling
  • Avoid pelvic exams

What causes placenta previa?
The exact cause of placenta previa is unknown. However, the following can increase your risk:

  • Over age 35
  • More then four pregnancies
  • Previous uterine surgery (regardless of incision type)
7. Preeclampsia or Toxemia : Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Preeclampsia is a condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Your blood pressure goes up, you retain water, and protein is found in your urine. It is also called toxemia or pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown.
Who is at risk for preeclampsia?
The following may increase the risk of developing preeclampsia:

  • A first-time mom
  • Women whose sisters and mothers had preeclampsia
  • Women carrying multiple babies; teenage mothers; and women older than age 40
  • Women who had high blood pressure or kidney disease prior to pregnancy

What are the symptoms of preeclampsia?
Mild preeclampsia: high blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine.
Severe preeclampsia: headaches, blurred vision, inability to tolerate bright light, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, urinating small amounts, pain in the upper right abdomen, shortness of breath, and tendency to bruise easily. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience blurred vision, severe headaches, abdominal pain, and/or urinating very infrequently .
How do I know if I have preeclampsia?
At each prenatal checkup your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, urine levels, and may order blood tests which may show if you have preeclampsia.
Your physician may also perform other tests that include: checking kidney and blood-clotting functions; ultrasound scan to check your baby’s growth; and Doppler scan to measure the efficiency of blood flow to the placenta.
How is preeclampsia treated?
Treatment depends on how close you are to your due date. If you are close to your due date, and the baby is developed enough, your health care provider will probably want to deliver your baby as soon as possible.
If you have mild preeclampsia and your baby has not reached full development, your doctor will probably recommend you do the following:

  • Rest, lying on your left side to take the weight of the baby off your major blood vessels.
  • Increase prenatal checkups.
  • Consume less salt.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

If you have severe preeclampsia, your doctor may try to treat you with blood pressure medication until you are far enough along to deliver safely.
How does preeclampsia affect my baby?
Preeclampsia can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby gets less oxygen and food. This can result in low birth weight.
Most women still can deliver a healthy baby if preeclampsia is detected early and treated with regular prenatal care.
How can I prevent preeclampsia:
Currently, there is no sure way to prevent preeclampsia. Some contributing factors to high blood pressure can be controlled and some can’t. Follow your doctor’s instruction about diet and exercise.

  • Use little or no added salt in your meals.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
  • Don’t eat a lot of fried foods and junk food.
  • Get enough rest
  • Exercise regularly
  • Elevate your feet several times during the day.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid beverages containing caffeine.
  • Your doctor may suggest you take prescribed medicine and additional supplements.

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