Preeclampsia: Warning Signs & What you Should Know

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Blog, News, Uncategorized

“Preeclampsia (pre-e-CLAMP-si-a) is persistent high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy or the postpartum period. It is often associated with high levels of protein in the urine or the new development of decreased blood platelets, trouble with the kidneys or liver, fluid in the lungs, or signs of brain trouble such as seizures and/or visual disturbances.”– Preeclampsia Foundation

The rate of Pre-eclampsia has risen 25 percent since 2003. Pre-eclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and infant death. In the United States, Black women and birthing people are five times more likely to be diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia and die than white women and birthing people. The immediate cause of this is not known and there are multiple contributing factors. What is known, is that having Pre-eclampsia puts you at a greater risk of developing heart disease and having high blood pressure in the future.

Let’s talk about what causes Pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is diagnosed when an expectant mother at 20 weeks gestation has blood pressure higher than 140/90, along with protein in urine, kidney problems, low platelet count, high liver enzymes, fluid in the lungs, blurred vision, and/or new onset of headaches.

Risk Factors include:

  • Over 35 years of age during pregnancy
  • History of Pre-eclampsia
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy with twins or multiples
  • Certain autoimmune diseases

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Chest Pain
  • Swelling in extremities
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vision changes

What you should know!

If Pre-eclampsia is left untreated, it could result in serious health problems, including-strokes, heart disease, and in worst case scenarios, maternal and infant death.

The best treatment for Pre-eclampsia is birth of the baby/babies. Physicians recommend that babies are delivered at 37 weeks gestation, if not sooner, in more severe cases. It is important that we bring Pre-eclampsia awareness to the African American community. Not only can lives be saved, but African American women, birthing people, and families can advocate for themselves and their babies. If we partner with our communities and healthcare providers, we can continue to educate and have much needed conversations around Black Maternal Health – while also continuing to work towards a future where Black families in St. Louis thrive before, during, and beyond pregnancy.


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