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pre-eclampsia

Term for a number of symptoms that can affect a woman during pregnancy and which threaten both the baby’s development and the mother’s life. The most significant is high blood pressure, which develops in the last three months of pregnancy. The body often retains liquid at this stage, and this is reflected in weight gains of more than 500 grams per week on average. The tissues in the lower legs swell and this is especially apparent around the ankles. The third possible symptom is the elimination of protein in the urine. This indicates damage to the kidneys. Women who, before becoming pregnant, had high blood pressure, kidney conditions or who are diabetics, are most at risk. The danger of these complications during pregnancy is that they increase the risk of the placenta malfunctioning. This retards the baby’s growth and the baby is underdeveloped. At a late stage in pregnancy, the woman can suffer symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and seeing spots and stars. The woman may suffer a fit of eclampsia at any time; fortunately this is rare. Weight, urine and blood pressure are checked during the regular tests performed during pregnancy. Early in pregnancy steps can be taken to prevent the condition from developing. The high blood pressure and the weight gain usually respond well to a diet in which there is little or no salt. If this is not effective, drugs are given to lower the blood pressure and the woman is made to rest in bed. The pregnancy sometimes has to be terminated early, depending on the likelihood of eclampsia and on the condition of the baby.

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