Pre-eclampsia is much more common in the first pregnancy (3-5% of births) and usually becomes evident in the third trimester (and virtually always after the 20th week of pregnancy).
Pre-eclampsia is thought to be caused by inflammatory mediators secreted by the placenta and acting on the vascular endothelium. If severe, it progresses to fulminant pre-eclampsia, with headaches and visual disturbances, and further to HELLP syndrome and eclampsia. These are life threatening conditions, not only for the developing fetus but for the mother as well.
The only treatment for eclampsia, or advancing pre-eclampsia is delivery, either by induction or Caesarean section. Women can be stabilized temporarily with magnesium sulphate. Delivery as early as 28 weeks is not unknown.
Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy that is characterized by hypertension (high blood pressure) and proteinuria (excessive protein in the urine); often including edema (swelling) and occasionally involving thrombocytopenia (low platelets) or liver function abnormalities.
Preeclampsia (toxemia in pregnancy) is characterized by increasing blood pressure, headaches, the presence of albumin (a blood protein) in the urine, and edema (accumulation of water) in the lower extremities.
The risk of preeclampsia is highest in primagravidas (women in their first pregnancy) and in women with minimal exposure to sperm (having used barrier methods of contraception, e.g., condoms).
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