The definition of preeclampsia (sometimes called PIH or pregnancy-induced hypertension) is a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes fluid retention and proteinuria. Preeclampsia generally happens at 20 weeks of pregnancy but in some cases, this happens earlier or after delivery. Approximately 5% of all pregnant women get preeclampsia.
So, what causes preeclampsia or PIH? Doctors so far can’t determine one cause of preeclampsia, but some potential causes are blood vessel problems, genetic factors, and autoimmune disorders. The risk factors that increase this risk are being over age 35, being obese, being in your early teens, having history of high blood pressure, etc. Nothing can prevent this condition at this time, but early and consistent prenatal care can help the doctor diagnose preeclampsia sooner and avoid certain complications. Having this diagnosis will allow for proper monitoring until your delivery date.
What are the symptoms of preeclampsia or PIH? Some of the common ones are changes in your vision, abnormal swelling of hands and face, sudden weight gain, etc. Urine and blood tests can also show abnormal liver enzymes, protein in your urine, and low platelet levels. They will also need to monitor your blood pressure. At this point, the doctor may want to do a nonstress test to monitor the baby. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound.
What is the treatment for preeclampsia or PIH? The most recommended treatment is delivery of the baby. This will prevent the disease from progressing to eclampsia which can cause seizures or a stroke. If you are earlier than 37 weeks pregnant the doctor will determine what is best for your health as well as your baby’s health. If you have a severe case of preeclampsia or PIH you may experience seizures, fluid in the lungs, abdominal pain, etc., leading to eclampsia. The doctor may admit you into the hospital for further testing, monitoring and IV medications.
What is the treatment after delivery? Once the baby is delivered preeclampsia should resolve. Liver and kidney levels typically return to normal within a few months. They will want you to take regular blood pressure checks even after the baby is born. However, sometimes, post-partum preeclampsia can occur, so be aware of any symptoms such as a severe headache, continued high blood pressure, or vision changes.
What are the complications that happen when you have preeclampsia? Preeclampsia left untreated can evolve to eclampsia. This can be life-threatening for both mother and child if left untreated. Some of these complications can include pulmonary edema, placental abruption, bleeding problems due to low platelet levels, etc. Complications can happen for the baby if born too early due to efforts to resolve the preeclampsia.
Failure to diagnose and manage mom and baby can be considered negligence. If this negligence causes the baby to have a birth injury this can be claimed as medical malpractice. If the mom dies from preeclampsia under the care of a doctor or hospital, the doctor or hospital can be on the hook for wrongful death action. The next step to take if you or a family member has suffered from failure to diagnose and manage preeclampsia is hiring Thomas & Wan, LLP to take a look at you and your baby’s medical records. This will determine if you have a case. Please let us answer all of your questions by calling us today.