Pre-eclampsia – a life threatening condition for expecting women

Swelling of the feet, legs and hands especially when ones pregnancy is in the second trimester - within four to six months – might be a reason to worry.  This is because it might be case of pre-eclampsia.

Swelling of the feet, legs and hands especially when ones pregnancy is in the second trimester - within four to six months – might be a reason to worry.  This is because it might be case of pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia, also referred to as toxemia, is a condition mostly identified in pregnant women. It is characterised by high blood pressure and accompanied with a high level of protein in the urine.  Now if this complication is ignored or not treated, the pregnancy will experience suffer an even more severe phase of pre-eclampsia, referred to as eclampsia.

Approximately 4 in every 100 women develop high blood pressure and leaking kidneys during pregnancy. These, usually in addition to the previously mentioned symptoms can cause seizures. Eclampsia can also trigger a coma and even death to the mother and baby –either during or after delivery. 

According to Josephine Murekezi, the chairperson of Rwanda Midwives Association, about 5 women are found with this problem every month at King Faisal Hospital. “We detect these cases when women come for antenatal services,” she explained.

She said that most of these cases are treated before they spiral out of control. Those who do not attend antenatal sessions are at a very high risk. This is because the disease can’t be detected.

The possible causes of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia is poor nutrition, high body fat or insufficient blood flow to the uterus. However, the real cause is still unknown to scientists. Pre-eclampsia is most often seen in first-time pregnancies, pregnant teens and women over 40 years of age.

Murekezi said the condition is sometimes hereditary. Research has it that black women are more likely to get high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia than Caucasian women. In Africa, pre-eclampsia occurs in 10% of pregnancies, which is significantly higher than the global average of approximately 4%.

 

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