Mothers with high blood pressure during her pregnancy have a condition known as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is not a medical disorder by itself. It is a collection of warning signs for eclampsia. Eclampsia can lead to serious problems, including comas, seizures and is potentially fatal to mother and the unborn child.
Warning signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure or swelling in the hands and feet. Those conditions should put a doctor taking care of pregnant mother on alert that she may have preeclampsia. With the correct diagnosis and treatment, eclampsia can be avoided in almost every case. In those situations where eclampsia occurs, the condition that causes the harm can be traced back directly to the medical negligence of the physician, physician assistants, nurse midwife and other medical providers during the woman’s pregnancy.
One of the most common of all birth complications is preeclampsia. One of 20 pregnant women develops this condition. It most likely begins in the 20 th week of the pregnancy. Even the slightest increase in blood pressure of the mother should be treated given the dangers high blood pressure presents to the mother and the unborn child.
Blood pressure is always an important measure that must be taken in prenatal care. the Mayo Clinic has suggested the blood pressure of 140/90 or higher requires clinical care and is considered abnormally high during a pregnancy.
An expecting mother should be looking for these symptoms of preeclampsia:
- Shortness of breath because of fluid lodged in the lungs;
- Kidney problems;
- Less urine output;
- Decreased levels of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia)
- Edema or swelling of the hands and face;
- Nausea with vomiting;
- Compromised liver function;
- High levels of protein in urine;
- Severe headaches;
- Blurry vision; and
- Pain below the rib cage.
The increased risk of developing preeclampsia during a pregnancy is seen more often in women who are 40 years old or older, have had pregnancies in the past with preeclampsia, maternal obesity, multiple fetuses, smokers, and women with diabetes or lupus.
With higher than normal blood pressure like those diagnosed with preeclampsia, pregnant women are at greater risk of a placental abruption, elevated liver enzymes, insufficient blood flow to the unborn child result in serious risk of oxygen deprivation and increased risk of developing heart and blood vessel diseases.
To treat preeclampsia the best approach is reduce strenuous activities, bed rest, medications to control blood pressure and deliver the baby. In most severe cases of preeclampsia, the treating obstetrician may order and schedule a Caesarean section. This way the risk to the child is reduced. With a preeclampsia mother the child is at risk for brain damage if the unborn child is in fetal distress for any length of time. Doctors have opined that women who have preeclampsia are more likely to deliver a child with cerebral palsy. There is medical literature that mothers who deliver babies at 32 to 36 weeks into the pregnancy are nearly five times more likely to have a baby who later is diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Some women experience convulsions or seizures during pregnancy because of higher blood pressure. This condition is usually referred to as eclampsia, a life-threatening complication to the mother who has uncontrolled preeclampsia.
Although there is no known cure for preeclampsia, the treatment of it is very important. Some doctors will prescribe a daily low-dose aspirin, calcium supplements or certain vitamins to try to control the higher blood pressure.
Another dangerous sign and symptom of preeclampsia is the breakdown of the mother’s red blood cells. During prenatal care an expecting mother will have blood drawn from appointment to appointment. One of the reasons for regularly checking the mother’s blood is to determine whether or not there has been the destruction of her red blood cells, which is termed hemolysis. HELLP syndrome refers to the destruction of the mother’s red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. The HELLP syndrome is dangerous because it can occur in the absence of preeclampsia or elevated blood pressure. The HELLP syndrome can be the cause of organ damage.
Kreisman Law Offices has been representing parents in birth injury and wrongful death cases caused by the negligence of physicians, hospitals, nurse midwives and other medical providers who have chosen not to properly diagnose and treat preeclampsia for more than 40 years.
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