Preeclampsia Definition and Overview
Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy associated with the development of high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Women diagnosed with preeclampsia may also complain of blurred vision, headaches, extreme swelling, and experience greater than normal weight gain.
Preeclampsia occurs any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can even develop up to
six weeks after the baby is born (the postpartum period) but this is uncommon.
Toxemia or toxemia of pregnancy are names that have been used to describe preeclampsia.
- Worldwide, it has been estimated that 5% to 14% of pregnancies are complicated
- Preeclampsia usually occurs in a woman's first
pregnancy, but may occur for the first time in a subsequent pregnancy. In
the US, 2% to 6% of healthy women will develop preeclampsia in the first
- Less than one in 100 women with preeclampsia will
develop eclampsia or convulsions (seizures).
- Up to 20% of all pregnancies are complicated by high blood pressure.
Complications resulting from high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and eclampsia
may account for up to 20% of all deaths that occur in pregnant women.
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