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What is preeclampsia?

If this is your first pregnancy, then you may likely have loads of questions for your New York City doctor. Most of those may primarily involve the health and well-being of your baby. However, are you fully aware of the changes that your pregnancy is causing in your own body? One of these may be the onset of a condition known as preeclampsia, which the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates to effect between 3 to 5 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. The complications caused by preeclampsia can range from issues such as preterm labor and low birth weight to potentially life-threatening complications like placental abruption.

Preeclampsia is classified by a potentially unsafe rise in your blood pressure during your pregnancy. Typically, it manifests itself after 20 weeks of gestation. Symptoms that you may notice can include:

  •          Frequent headaches
  •          Severe abdominal pain
  •          Swelling in in your face and hands
  •          Shortness of breath
  •          Light sensitivity and blurred vision

If you report these symptoms to your doctor, he or she may be able to confirm the presence of preeclampsia through blood and urine analysis or imaging studies. Results such as fluid buildup around your lungs, a low platelet count or a high concentration of protein in your urine may be indicators of this condition.

While preeclampsia may cause serious issues such as strokes or seizures (which, in turn, contribute to pregnancy complications), it may also be managed up until your delivery if your provider detects it early and delivers effective treatment. That may include extended bed rest combined with your taking corticosteroids as well as blood pressure and anti-seizure medications. However, such care may only be possible provided your doctor listens to your concerns as you bring them up and takes the necessary steps to address them. 

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