Pre-eclampsia is also known as pregnancy induced hypertension. This is a less serious form of a condition known as eclampsia or toxemia. Pre-eclampsia is a potentially serious complication in pregnancy and will cause the pregnancy to be classified as high risk.
The symptoms of Pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure. In addition, protein is found in the urine when tested at prenatal visits. Most women with pre-eclampsia experience swelling in the extremities. Swelling is often found in the hands, feet and face. This is caused by fluid retention.
A main danger of pre-eclampsia is the condition can prevent sufficient blood flow to the uterus. This reduces nutrients and oxygen for the baby, which can result in growth retardation. In addition, pre-eclampsia can cause preterm birth.
There are additional risks to the mother and baby, particularly in extreme cases of pre-eclampsia. In these cases, the condition can result in stroke, coma or death for the mother, baby or both. For this reason, you will be monitored closely if you are showing signs of developing pre-eclampsia.
Currently treatment involves managing the condition and preventing it from getting worse while the baby grows enough to be born. The benefits of continuing the pregnancy are weighed against the risks to the mother and baby as well as the severity of the condition.
A review of 60 studies in the British Medical Journal showed benefits of treatment with low doses of aspirin in the treatment of pre-eclampsia. The studies are conflicting on the best dosage. Only use aspirin under the advice and supervision of a doctor because aspirin can cause problems of its own. Never take any medication without the advice of your health care provider.
In the end, the only cure for pre-eclampsia is the birth of the baby. This will be delayed by managing the condition and putting the mother on bed rest. Eventually the baby may need to be born early. In this case, steroids may be given to help the lungs mature prior to the birth.