SCREENING AND MANAGEMENT OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA
Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a condition that affects some pregnant women. Risk factors for PE include women who:
- Are pregnant for the first time,
- Have multiple pregnancies,
- Have gestational diabetes
- Have PE in previous pregnancies
- Have pre-existing hypertension, diabetes before pregnancy
- Have higher-than-normal body mass index prior to pregnancy
PE is marked by high blood pressure accompanied with a high level of protein in the urine. There may also be derangements of the pregnant woman’s kidney and liver functions. PE may have negative impact on both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Therefore, it is very important to diagnose the condition early. Women with PE will have high blood pressure and swelling in the feet, legs and hands. However, a single reading of high blood pressure is not sufficient to diagnose PE as many mothers have transient raised blood pressure due to anxiety. Similarly, swelling of hands and feet is a common occurrence in normal pregnancy. Hence, it cannot be used to diagnose PE as well.
Women suspected to have PE should have their blood pressure monitored over 4 to 6 hours while awaiting results of blood and urine tests to confirm or refute the diagnosis. If PE is confirmed, the appropriate treatment will be instituted. Both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby will be monitored closely for the rest of the pregnancy.