Learn the truth about preeclampsia

Preeclampsia affects as many as 8% of all pregnancies. How much do you know about this leading cause of prematurity and mother/baby emergencies?

1. Prenatal appointments are essential to screen for preeclampsia.

TRUE: Among other health checks, your provider is monitoring you for the disease at each prenatal visit. Your urine is tested for protein and your blood pressure is monitored at each visit because these are the signs that can signal the disease Because they can change dramatically between appointments, it’s very important for you to be aware of and report possible symptoms.

2. Once I’ve had preeclampsia, it won’t happen in another pregnancy.

FALSE: Having had preeclampsia is the leading risk factor for having it again in subsequent pregnancies. Although less common, the disease can occur in subsequent pregnancies even if you’ve never had it before.

3. The only cure is delivery, so once the baby is delivered the mother will be fine.

FALSE: While delivery sets the recovery process in motion, most maternal problems occur in the 24-48 hours after the birth of a baby. Complications from preeclampsia can occur up to 6 weeks post-partum so it’s important that you see your health care provider if you experience any headaches, swelling, vision changes, nausea or a sudden weight gain post-birth.

4. I can prevent preeclampsia by eating right and living a low stress lifestyle.

FALSE: While eating healthfully and reducing stress benefits both you and baby, currently there’s no way to prevent or reverse it. Baby aspirin, calcium, and other interventions have been studied and may be helpful in some women but not to the degree that they’re standard recommendations.

5. Although my blood pressure may go up a bit, preeclampsia won’t kill me or my baby.

FALSE: When caught early, preeclampsia can be monitored carefully to seek the healthiest outcome possible for mother and baby. But if it comes on suddenly, if it’s not diagnosed quickly enough or if the mother and baby don’t get adequate care, one or both can die. Even women who don’t die from its complications can suffer lifelong disabilities: paralysis, blindness, permanent neurological impairment, hypertension, liver failure, kidney failure, or other health issues.

6. Although my health may be in danger, preeclampsia won’t hurt my baby.

FALSE: Preeclampsia absolutely can harm your baby, causing growth restriction, placental abruption or even death. It is a leading cause of preterm birth.

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