Preeclampsia is high blood pressure that is accompanied by protein in the urine and that develops after the 20th week of pregnancy. Eclampsia is seizures that occur in women with preeclampsia and that have no other cause.
Preeclampsia can cause the placenta to detach and the baby to be born too early, increasing the risk that the baby will have problems soon after birth.
The woman’s hands and feet may swell, and if preeclampsia is severe and not treated, she may have seizures (eclampsia) or organ damage.
Depending on how severe preeclampsia is, treatment may involve bed rest, hospitalization, drugs to lower blood pressure, or delivery of the baby as soon as possible.
Magnesium sulfate is given by vein to prevent or stop seizures.
About 3 to 7% of pregnant women develop preeclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy). In preeclampsia, an increase in blood pressure is accompanied by protein in the urine (proteinuria). Without treatment, preeclampsia can suddenly cause seizures (eclampsia). Eclampsia occurs in 1 of 200 women who have preeclampsia. If not treated promptly, eclampsia is usually fatal.
Preeclampsia (with or without eclampsia) develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and usually before the end of the first week after delivery. One fourth of the cases occur after delivery, usually within the first 4 days but sometimes up to 6 weeks after delivery.