Preeclampsia or Gestational Hypertension

Six to eight percent of women can develop gestational hypertension, or high blood pressure during pregnancy. A couple of additional names refer to the same condition -- pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia (pronounced pre-E-clamp-see-a), and toxemia. Preeclampsia can develop in women who already had hypertension before pregnancy, and in women who did not experience hypertension previously. Preeclampsia can become a serious problem for both mom and baby. Blood pressure is one of the monitored items in prenatal care for this reason. 

Complications that can occur for mothers due to gestational hypertension:

  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Death

Complications that can occur for babies due to gestational hypertension:

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth

Symptoms of preeclampsia can include:

  • Vision problems (blurry, double vision)
  • Headaches
  • Proteinuria (albumin detectable in urine samples)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Edema (swelling -- especially of lower extremities)
  • Nausea 
  • Sudden weight gain

Diagnostic tests a doctor uses to determine preeclampsia are blood pressure readings and urine samples with high amounts of protein. Some medications can be used to reduce blood pressure, but the preferred methods for preeclampsia treatment are diet alterations (limiting salt intake), and bed rest. Preeclampsia usually vanishes within six weeks of the baby’s delivery.

Risk factors that make a woman more likely to develop preeclampsia during pregnancy are:

  • Presence of diabetes, kidney disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma
  • Being under the age of 20 or over the age of 40
  • Pregnant with multiple babies
  • Hypertension before pregnancy
  • Obese before pregnancy

Regular prenatal care includes careful monitoring of blood pressure to prevent possible harm to mom and baby. If you believe you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a doctor's failure to diagnose or treat gestational hypertension, you may be eligible for damages. Contact the Sweeney Law Firm and have our experts review the facts to see if you have a medical malpractice case. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or a recovery of funds for you.