What is Pre-eclampsia?
As the name suggests Pre-eclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop prior to eclampsia, if left undiagnosed it leads to eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is marked by persistent hypertension during pregnancy, decreased blood platelets, and increased protein in urine. Women with pre-eclampsia who experience seizures are considered to have eclampsia.
Why regular checkups are mandatory?
Pre-eclampsia is one of the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, stillbirths and death of newborns in first week. It usually appears after 20th week of pregnancy in women who have not experienced high blood pressure before. However it mostly resolves by 6th postpartum week. Few women don’t show the symptoms and therefore pregnant women should get regular antenatal check ups.
What are the symptoms of Pre-eclampsia:
Consult your doctor if you experience severe headaches, dizziness, reduced or no urine output, rapid weight gain, excessive nausea and vomiting.
What are the risk factors for Pre-eclampsia:
- Women with PCOS can be at risk for pre-eclampsia
- It is more common in women who are pregnant for the first time and also if there is greater interval between pregnancies.
- Pre pregnancy obesity
- Women with chronic kidney disease, insulin-dependent diabetics
- Women who are pregnant via IVF
- Those having a family history of pre-eclampsia.
- Stress and environmental factors such as living at a high altitude.
However, there are no concrete measures to predict the risk of Pre-eclampsia in women who are pregnant for the first time with no previous history of hypertension.Hence early detection with periodic frequent checkups helps in managing pre-eclampsia.
- Appropriate dietary calcium intake in women deficient with calcium reduces the risk of developing preeclampsia. However it is to be noted that calcium supplementation doesn’t treat preeclampsia.
- According to WHO guidelines use of Vitamin D in prevention of preeclampsia has been rejected as there is no sufficient data. However pregnant women need to make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy.
- Use of Vitamin C and E supplementation for prevention of preeclampsia has also been strongly refuted.
- There are no substantial evidences proving link between high salt intake and preeclampsia nevertheless healthy dietary practices are recommended which includes dietary salt restriction.
- Health of women prior to pregnancy is vital in preventing preeclampsia. Maintaining optimal pre-pregnancy health may reduce risk of developing pre-eclampsia
- It is a suggested idea for women planning pregnancy to lose excess weight and be as healthy as they can. If they have diabetes or hypertension then proper management is recommended.
Note: Women should first consult their doctor before taking any supplements, vitamins or medications.
Long term implications: Women diagnosed with preeclampsia during pregnancy are at higher risk of developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases later in life. Hence personalized diet and exercises should not be neglected.