If you are an expectant mother in New York City, then you are likely already well aware of your need for effective prenatal care. A number of temporary medical abnormalities such as preeclampsia can arise during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is characterized by hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy. If detected, it can be managed with little risk to your or your unborn baby. Yet what if your preeclampsia goes undiagnosed?
Even though preeclampsia only arises during pregnancy, it may still have the same devastating effect on you that those who suffer from chronic high blood pressure experience, such as increasing your risk of developing heart failure or having a stroke. In extreme cases, preeclampsia can progress to eclampsia, a much more serious condition which could provoke life-threatening seizure activity.
Your preeclampsia can also put your baby at risk. Due to your temporary high blood pressure, there may be a decreased flow of blood to the placenta, which can cause babies to be born prematurely and/or experience developmental delays. Indeed, The Preeclampsia Foundation reports it to be the cause of more than 15 percent of premature births. Your preeclampsia could also increase your risk of suffering a placental abruption, which often results in stillbirth.
While the exact causes of preeclampsia are unknown, there are certain risk factors associated with it, namely:
- First-time pregnancies
- Pregnancies in women under 20 and over 40
- Pregnancies with multiples
If you present any of these risks, then your provider should do routine blood pressure screenings combined with urinalysis during your pregnancy (to check for elevated protein levels in your urine). A failure to include such screenings in your prenatal care could put you and your baby at risk.