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What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition suffered by some pregnant women. It is characterized by high blood pressure, high levels of protein in the urine, and swelling in the feet, legs and hands. In general, women will develop preeclampsia in the latter half of the pregnancy, toward the third trimester; although some may develop the condition earlier.

Babies born to women with preeclampsia are at risk for lower birth weight and premature birth, which can cause developmental disabilities, infection and other problems. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which is the most severe phase of preeclampsia. Eclampsia is linked to coma and death of the mother and baby.

Causes and Warning Signs of Preeclampsia

There are no definite known causes of preeclampsia, although obesity, age of the mother and poor nutrition are all likely factors. Preeclampsia is also more prevalent in multiple pregnancies and in women with a family history of high blood pressure.

Some warning signs of preeclampsia include:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Severe headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduction in urine
  • Vomiting and dizziness

These are all general symptoms of pregnancy, so preeclampsia can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. However, these symptoms are much more pronounced in women with preeclampsia. If you are pregnant and experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about testing for the condition. If your baby was born prematurely, consider whether you experienced these symptoms during your pregnancy. You may have had preeclampsia that went undiagnosed.

Treatment of Preeclampsia

The only cure for preeclampsia is the delivery of the baby, but depending on when a woman was diagnosed, this may not be possible. Typically, if the preeclampsia is not serious, a doctor will prescribe bed rest and continually monitor the mother and baby for signs of increasing severity of the condition. A physician may decide it is best for a mother to stay in the hospital for a few weeks for monitoring until the baby can be safely delivered. The decision when to deliver the baby can make a big difference in preventing and avoiding long-term complications, both from preeclampsia and from a premature delivery. A doctor is responsible for understanding a woman's specific situation and making the most appropriate decision based on the facts of the matter.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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