The Mayo Clinic defines preeclampsia as a pregnancy complication in which the prospective mother experiences high blood pressure and “signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.” For women who have historically had normal blood pressure, preeclampsia usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy complications, but can be very serious. Though approximately one out over every 20 pregnant women will develop the condition, physicians must treat it very seriously.
Preeclampsia Risk Factors
The risk factors associated with developing preeclampsia include:
- Mother having suffered preeclampsia in the past
- Mother aged 40 or older
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Because preeclampsia is common, medical professionals usually keep watch for some indication that a woman is in danger of developing it. Preeclampsia symptoms are not always evident to the prospective mother, which is why medical screening is essential. One of the best ways physicians can monitor for preeclampsia is to monitor a woman’s blood pressure.
In addition to elevated blood pressure, symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Edema (swollen hands and feet)
- Reduced liver function
Complications Associated with Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia represents a significant risk to both the mother and her baby. Some of the more serious risks are:
- Eclampsia, which occurs when a woman suffers from seizures due to her preeclampsia
- Improper blood flow to the placenta
- Potential to develop heart related diseases
- Hemolysis elevated liver enzymes (HELLP)
- Potential premature birth of the baby
Preeclampsia, Eclampsia, and Birth Injury
When a woman suffers from preeclampsia and eclampsia, her health dangerous conditions may cause her doctors to deliver her baby early. While researchers have not concluded that premature birth is a cause of birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, approximately half of children who suffer from cerebral palsy are born prematurely.
Preeclampsia cannot currently be prevented or cured, so medical professionals must work to help at-risk women monitor for the condition’s symptoms, and seek treatment when such symptoms appear.
A failure on the part of a doctor or nurse to properly inform a woman of the risks associated with preeclampsia, screen her for the condition, and treat her if she develops it can result in significant, and even life threatening, consequences for her and her baby.
If you or your child suffered injury due to your attending physician’s failure to diagnose your case of preeclampsia, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact a birth injury attorney today to discuss the facts of your case and receive an opinion as to how you should move forward.