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Are There Different Kinds of Preeclampsia?

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Updated June 09, 2014

Pregnant Caucasian businesswoman working in office
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Question: Are There Different Kinds of Preeclampsia?
Answer: Yes. A medical distinction is made between mild forms of preeclampsia and severe forms of preeclampsia.

Mild preeclampsia is diagnosed when:

  • Pregnancy is greater than 20 weeks
  • Blood pressure is greater than 140 systolic or 90 diastolic
  • 0.3g of protein is collected in a 24-hour urine sample, or persistent 1+ protein measurement on urine dipstick
  • There are no other signs of problems with the mother or the baby

Severe preeclampsia is a more serious problem. Diagnosis of severe preeclampsia requires the basic features of mild preeclampsia as well as some indication of additional problems with either the mother or the baby. Thus, one of the following findings is also necessary for a diagnosis of severe preeclampsia:

  • Signs of central nervous system problems (severe headache, blurry vision, altered mental status)
  • Signs of liver problems (nausea and/or vomiting with abdominal pain)
  • At least twice the normal measurements of certain liver enzymes on blood test
  • Very high blood pressure ( greater than 160 systolic or 110 diastolic)
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  • Greater than 5g of protein in a 24-hour sample
  • Very low urine output (less than 500mL in 24 hours)
  • Signs of respiratory problems (pulmonary edema, bluish tint to the skin)
  • Severe fetal growth restriction
  • Stroke

The distinction between mild and severe preeclampsia is important because the management strategies are very different.

Learn More About Preeclampsia:
What is Preeclampsia?
What are the Symptoms of Preeclampsia?
Are there Different Kinds of Preeclampsia?
Is Preeclampsia Dangerous?
How is Preeclampsia Treated?

Sources:

Diagnosis and Management of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin #33, January 2002.

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