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Is Preeclampsia Dangerous?

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Updated June 09, 2014

Question: Is Preeclampsia Dangerous?
Answer: Preeclampsia is a serious condition that must be monitored and treated to avoid complications. While preeclampsia affects only about five percent to eight percent of pregnancies in the United States, it is one of the top three causes of maternal death. About 1 out of 100,000 pregnant women die after having some form of complications from this disease.

In general, mild preeclampsia is rarely complicated, and both the mother and the baby tend to do fine. Some studies have suggested that, overall, outcomes in cases of mild preeclampsia are about the same as those in a normal pregnancy. The difference is that women with preeclampsia are more likely to have a labor induction.

Severe preeclampsia is different. In contrast to mild preeclampsia, severe preeclampsia has been shown to be associated with numerous possible negative outcomes. The most common problems associated with severe preeclampsia are:

  • Maternal liver problems
  • Maternal kidney problems
  • Need for cesarean delivery
  • Preterm birth
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Respiratory problems in the baby
While these are serious problems, it is important to note that studies have not shown any overall increase in the risk of fetal (not yet born) or neonatal (just born) death, as long as the baby is born at normal term. If born early, the baby is subject to the same risks as any premature infant.

Following a successful delivery, preeclampsia symptoms tend to resolve within a few days. Sometimes, though, it may take as long as several weeks, and patients may have to be sent home with some kind of high blood pressure medicine.

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:

MacKay, AP., et al. Pregnancy-related mortality from preeclampsia and eclampsia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 97(4):533-8.

Hauth, JC., et al. Pregnancy outcomes in healthy nulliparas who developed hypertension. Calcium for Preeclampsia Prevention Study Group.Obstetrics & Gynecology. 95(1):24-8.

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