Doctor's Notes on What Is Eclampsia During Pregnancy?
Eclampsia is a life-threatening complication of pregnancy that can follow untreated preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine) that causes a pregnant woman to develop seizures or coma. The cause of preeclampsia or eclampsia is not known, but risk factors include multiple gestations, women older than 35 years, high blood pressure prior to pregnancy, diabetes, other medical problems (such as connective tissue and kidney diseases), obesity, and African American ethnicity.
Symptoms of eclampsia in the mother include seizures or convulsions, elevated blood pressure (hypertension), excess protein in the urine, blurred vision, seeing spots, severe headaches, blindness (occasionally), upper abdominal pain (due to changes that affect the liver), and excess bruising (due to problems with blood clotting). Symptoms of eclampsia that affect the baby include diminished placental blood flow and impaired fetal development (due to hypertension in the mother). A baby may not grow properly and may be smaller than anticipated.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.