Preeclampsia is not a thing of the past

downton-abbey1Did you watch Downton Abbey? What a shocker! But did you know that losing a mother and/or baby to eclampsia resulting from preeclampsia still happens today?

Preeclampsia is a condition that happens only during pregnancy (after the 20th week) or right after pregnancy. It’s when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure and protein in her urine. We don’t know what causes it and we don’t know how to prevent it.

Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies, but it can cause severe problems for moms. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It also may affect how the blood clots and cause serious bleeding problems. In rare cases, preeclampsia can become a life-threatening condition called eclampsia that includes seizures following preeclampsia. Eclampsia sometimes can lead to coma and, in Lady Sybil’s case, death.

It has been nearly 100 years since the time of the story portrayed on Downton Abbey, yet to this day there still is no cure for preeclampsia except immediate delivery of the baby, often via cesarean section. Preeclampsia can turn into full eclampsia fairly quickly and it’s important that medical professionals keep an eye out for signs.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
High blood pressure
Protein in the urine
Severe headaches
Vision problems, like blurriness, flashing lights, or being sensitive to light
Pain in the upper right belly area
Nausea or vomiting
Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
Swelling in the legs, hands, and face

It’s true that many of these signs and symptoms are normal discomforts of pregnancy. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to receive regular prenatal care. If you’re pregnant and have severe headaches, blurred vision or severe upper belly pain, call your health care provider right away.

You can read one woman’s personal story here, and for more information about preeclampsia, go to this link.


  • comment-avatar

    Thank you for posting about this. I watched this episode of Downton Abbey last night and it was scary. It is nice to know more about the condition.

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    amanda pantoja January 29, 2013

    I had this horrible condition and my doctor ignored it!

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    Would love to see more information about HELLP Syndrome out there too. My daughter was born at 25 weeks due to HELLP and my dear friend lost her daughter at 35 weeks b/c of this condition. Both our docs told us our belly pain was indigestion. Thankfully, I ignored them and went to the hospital anyway. My friend suffered for 5 weeks before ignoring them and her dear sweet girl had already passed away. More education is needed and docs need to start listening instead of assuming we’re just nervous first time moms!

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    Hello everyone thanks for all this ifmartion, I had emergency c section 8 months ago I found out Im pregnant again very scary gonna see a midwife this Friday and can’t wait I been vomiting every day soo hope it’s not gona be long like this I’m soo tired just want to say how I feel good look to every mom and all the best for moms and baby xxxx

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    Hi Brooklyn – It’s good that you’re going to get early prenatal care. Your midwife can keep an eye on you right from the beginning. I hope you stomach settles down soon and that you can get the rest you need.