Pre-eclampsia is a hypertensive syndrome unique to pregnancy that is defined as a new onset of high blood pressure after 20 weeks gestation with abnormal amounts of protein found in the urine. Patients with pre-eclampsia sometimes have symptoms including visual changes like flashing lights (scotomata), pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, severe and unremitting headaches and extensive swelling of the whole body.
Lab tests may show very high levels of urine protein, low platelets and/or liver dysfunction. Potential maternal complications include seizures (eclampsia), liver damage, stroke, kidney failure and, even death. Fetal complications include growth restriction, placental abruption and increased risk for fetal loss. The only “cure” for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby.
Babies may need to be delivered prematurely to reduce the potential life-threatening harm to mom and baby. Steroid shots aid babies who must be delivered early. Mildly pre-eclamptic patients are monitored very closely with frequent visits, labwork and up to twice weekly ultrasounds for fetal well-being. If pre-eclampsia is severe, delivery via induction or Cesarean section is recommended.
Dr. Berry is well-versed at the diagnosis and treatment of pre-eclampsia. His fellowship thesis project focused upon the vascular and oxygen delivery to the organ systems of the human body in patients suffering from pre-eclampsia. We, at Austin Perinatal, are always available to you and your obstetric care provider should any concerns about pre-eclampsia ever arise during your pregnancy.